The New York State Restaurant Association is lobbying state lawmakers to expand gaming licenses to include restaurants, arguing on-premises betting will boost the industry’s “economic arsenal” as restaurants continue to struggle with a “harsh economic environment,” reports Long Island Business News.
Prior to the pandemic, the restaurant sector was a $50 billion industry in New York, producing $4 billion a year in sales tax revenue, according to an association statement. However, the trade group maintains that higher costs, supply-chain disruptions and staffing shortages have cut into restaurant profits over the past few years.
Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association, stated that New York sports fans have “enthusiastically embraced” sports betting, either at brick-and-mortar casinos or from their mobile devices, “and are hungry for more.”
“New York must capture this economic opportunity and expand the type of licenses available to restaurants and meet customer demand. The restaurant industry is well positioned to take advantage of this burgeoning marketplace and grow New York’s sports betting footprint,” she said.
“We understand sports betting terminals and kiosks might not have a place in every restaurant and expanding available licenses may not be a silver bullet for the industry. However, for those where this is a fit, the additional revenue from on-premises sports betting could mean the difference between closing and survival,” she added.
The association points to a bar in Washington D.C. that reported bringing in over $1.4 million in gross gaming revenue since the beginning of the NFL season in September last year, claiming that the extra income allowed the business to keep its doors open.
As reported by the aforementioned source, Michele Ciavarella, executive chairman of Toronto-based Elys Game Technology, said the state represents “an optimal landscape for leveraging the enthusiasm for sports betting” at restaurants and retail establishments.
“We believe that fostering a retail market is a question of convenience that would allow a sports bettor the option of patronizing a local restaurant or sports bar while enjoying a sports event as adopted in D.C., Maryland and Ohio, as well as Canadian provinces, while contributing tax revenue for community services and infrastructure," Ciavarella said.
In 2021, Grand Central, a longtime sports bar on 18th Street in Northwest, received a D.C. Class B sports betting license, becoming the first sports bar in the country to now call itself a sportsbook. The bar launched in partnership with Elys, which sees an untapped market in this small business sports betting model.
In an interview in July last year, Ciavarella told Yogonet that the successful small business sportsbook installation at Grand Central Restaurant and Sportsbook had created "considerable interest in this segment, not only in D.C., but also in nearby states."
Last month, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the state collected more than $900 million in taxes and licensing fees from mobile sports betting during its first year of operation. In its first year, New Yorkers placed more than $16 billion in bets online after paying out the winning bets. The state said it earned about $1.4 billion dollars in revenue as a result.