As an increasing number of US states look to legalise online gaming and sports betting, Steve Norton, chairman and CEO of Norton Management and a former casino executive holding senior roles at Sands, Gold River Gaming and Argosy Gaming among others, asks if region governments aren’t robbing Peter to pay Paul.
The coronavirus pandemic is undoubtedly going to change American casino gaming, probably very negatively for the major resort casino operators.
As more states approve online gaming, on line sports betting, on line poker or online lottery games; visits to casino resorts, race track slots and play on gaming machines in bars, will certainly decline, even after the current COVID-19 concerns disappear.
State tax collections may increase thanks to the many new ways to gamble, but the nearly two million industry jobs, a long with taxes collected at landbased casinos will definitely decline. Taxes on hotel accommodations, food and beverage sales, live entertainment and even casino gaming will be impacted, as more convenient gambling options become available via smartphone, tablet or home computer, reducing the need to travel to the nearest casino.
Unfortunately, gaming operators in major US states, like California, Nevada, New Jersey, Florida, Oklahoma, and Illinois will see decreases in visitation and future gambling expansion will more likely resemble Europe, with UK-style sports betting parlours which also offer slots or VLT machines.
It’s a shame that some of the states, now expanding the ways to gamble, don’t instead consider granting short-term or temporary approval for iGaming, this would leave the door open for our incredible casino resorts to come back after the virus scare disappears.
It’s also important to note that even if the idea of billion dollar integrated resorts wanes in the US, this is not likely to occur in newer, competing destinations, such as Macau, Singapore or Japan.
The convenience of betting online also has an other big negative. And that is the inevitable growth in compulsive gambling and the likelihood of minors getting access to a parent’s credit card or bank info, following the example of the UK, where 30 percent of minors have reportedly gambled in the last year.