Minutes before New York went live with mobile sports betting on Saturday morning, two bettors at Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady inquired as to how to place wagers through the BetRivers New York mobile app.
On an otherwise quiet morning inside the 50,000-square-foot facility, a host of bettors occupied the 20-some odd sports betting kiosks at the retail casino. One bettor told a sportsbook supervisor that he was less interested in betting on his app than he was in collecting the automatic bonus match promised to bettors for making their first online deposit.
Overnight, Rush Street Interactive’s BetRivers Sportsbook NY app received approval in time for Saturday morning’s launch, a Rush Street spokesperson told Sports Handle. Ahead of the rollout, customers with Apple devices had the ability to download the mobile app in the App Store, the spokesperson said. While the app was not available in the Google Play Store for the 9 a.m. launch, customers using Android devices could place wagers online through BetRivers.com.
BetRivers’ Android app is now live in the Apple Store in NY and its NY iOS and Android apps are both live in the App Store, Rush Street said.
Rush Street’s launch of New York mobile sportsbook operations on Saturday came two days after the New York Gaming Commission announced that the company met all statutory and regulatory requirements needed to begin accepting online wagers. The commission allowed Rush Street and three others — Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, and FanDuel — to commence with online sports wagering at 9 a.m. ET.
At one entrance, bettors were greeted with a promotion that portrayed former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis. A 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, Bettis held a device with the BetRivers app in his right hand underneath a banner that read: “Download the BetRivers New York App today!” Inside the sportsbook, several tables were adorned with a large sticker with a QR code that enabled customers to easily download the app.
Saving money on gas
One bettor, Rich Filkins, made a 30-minute trek from Ravena, a village 15 minutes south of downtown Albany, for Saturday’s much anticipated debut. Filkins spent several minutes at the sportsbook counter while signing up for an online account. Filkins, an experienced poker player, described a sportsbook supervisor as friendly and patient in walking him through the process of establishing an account.
Filkins had some minor issues downloading the app on his Android device, but they were quickly rectified with the help of the supervisor. Filkins also received a message that he encountered a “bank error” when he tried to load funds onto his account, but he appeared unconcerned. The bettor expected to correct the problem at some point on Saturday.
“Some of the banks might have to get used to this, they might not be on board yet,” Filkins told Sports Handle.
Moving forward, Filkins plans to continue placing sports wagers inside the book in between games at the casino’s poker room. But when he’s not playing poker, he prefers the convenience of placing sports wagers from his living room.
Several bettors place wagers at kiosks at @RiversCasino_NY ahead of the 9 am launch of online sports wagering in New York. Interested to see the mobile/retail split this weekend pic.twitter.com/SYxynzfHC2
— Matt Rybaltowski (@MattRybaltowski) January 8, 2022
In a challenging week for betting on football, Filkins will wait until around kickoff on Sunday before placing wagers on the weekly slate of games. In Week 18, the final week of the regular season, numerous teams plan to rest their starters ahead of the playoffs. New York bettors who have been accustomed to racing to the casino after hearing of a late roster change can now place a wager from their couch.
“That’s the convenient thing about this, you can wait until the last minute,” Filkins said.
First online bet: Broncos with the points
The first online bet placed with BetRivers in New York was processed at 9:09.58 a.m., nearly 10 minutes after the state went live. The bettor placed $500 on the Denver Broncos to cover as 10.5-underdogs against the spread in Saturday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Bettors wagering on local teams at BetRivers might notice that the exact pricing varies from one mobile sportsbook to another. As of Saturday morning, the Bills remained 16-point favorites over the Jets at BetRivers, with a vig of -113 on the Bills’ side and -108 for the Jets. At DraftKings, both sides featured standard -110 juice. FanDuel listed the Bills as -1200 moneyline favorites, with the Jets at +750. A Jets backer received moneyline odds of +700 at BetRivers, along with odds of -1115 on the Bills.
Other highlights from BetRivers’ opening day of mobile sports betting in New York:
- BetRivers is currently offering multi-game same-game parlays, where players can combine same-game parlays from a variety of different sports.
- BetRivers is promoting a feature it says allows customers to convert bonuses to cash in quick fashion, with a 1x playthrough on bonus money.
- BetRivers offers live sports streaming and in-game wagering through the BetRivers GameCast view. In-game wagering is expected to proliferate in New York now that mobile sports betting is live.
Avoiding long lines at the window
By 11 a.m. ET, a long line to place wagers at two open windows wound around to a nearby bar adjacent to the Rivers Casino sportsbook. At one point, about two dozen customers waited patiently in line to make an in-person wager. Conversely, those using the app could place their bets right away.
Kyle Bullard, 32, of Schenectady, has developed a routine of placing sports wagers daily inside the retail casino. Parlays are Bullard’s specialty, and he said that on Friday night he won $962 on a multi-leg basketball parlay that cost $33. Bullard had to sweat a deficit at halftime when the Toronto Raptors trailed the shorthanded Utah Jazz by 13. A 22-8 run by Toronto to end the third quarter sparked a 122-108 win.
Bullard lives within walking distance of the casino in downtown Schenectady, mere blocks from the Mohawk Harbor facility that opened in 2017. Still, he has grown frustrated by the long queues on NFL Sundays that can stretch all the way back to a wall lined with slot machines. If you arrive at Rivers on 12:30 p.m. on a Sunday, expecting to get your bet in by the 1:00 kickoff, you are rolling the dice, Bullard explained.
“Honestly, I’ll probably be betting more from my couch,” Bullard said.