The traditional epicenter of American gambling has been Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos. Placing a bet used to mean wagering in person at a blackjack table, slot machine, or racetrack. However, as more US states legalise online sports betting, latent public demand is making itself known. Sports betting is performing a total eclipse on time-honoured casinos.
The trend is most obvious in New Jersey, the first state to permit online bookmakers to operate in 2018. It is estimated that 93.6% of all gaming revenue came from online sportsbooks in 2020. Both in terms of scale and proportion this shadows over Nevada’s longtime reputation for being the gambling capital of the United States.
Developments in the past several years have led to land-based casino operators to begin positioning themselves for the turning tide. One such operator, Las Vegas Sands, has publicly commented on their intention to move into online sports betting.
While Las Vegas Sands has in the past been vocal against online gambling, CEO Rob Goldstein has been reported to have entered discussion with well-known online gambling software providers. Other land-based casino organisations are partnering with international bookmakers who need a domestic attache to enter the market, as Century Casinos has done with Bet365 in Colorado.
Widespread online casino gaming remains on the horizon, and so casino operators are for the moment forced to endeavor into the unfamiliar. Many state governments treat online casino gaming with tighter restrictions and steeper player protection protocols, and are therefore more hesitant to legalise this gambling product.
Looking ahead, the future of land-based casino gaming remains uncertain. If appearing in person at a casino becomes a pastime of yesteryear, something done more for tourism than regular playing, the bread and butter of retail casinos may be undercut. The monopoly of Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and tribal casinos is being democratised and decentralised, pulled towards an offering outside their wheelhouses.
While it can be argued that players may still prefer to wager in person, the example of Iowa’s sports betting legislation casts doubt on this assumption. Online sports betting has been legal in Iowa since mid-2019, but to open an account players were required to appear in person to register. Now that this added step is being removed, revenues are projected to increase substantially. In times of home-shelter and lockdown, online always trumps retail.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes