The Expansion of the Gambling Industry in the U.S. Wins Big at the Polls

At the polls on Tuesday, the U.S. betting industry was victorious, with three states authorizing legal sports betting and three others either approving or expanding casino gambling. In Maryland, Louisiana, and South Dakota, voters this year approved sports betting. While Virginia, Nebraska, and Colorado voters asked for casino expansion.

This creates a situation where more than half the country would have legal sports betting by the end of next year, less than three years after the U.S Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for all 50 states to adopt sports betting if they so choose.

In Virginia, casino gambling was approved in four locations, with Nebraska authorizing the addition of casino games at its horse racing tracks, and Colorado expanding the number and type of casino games it can offer, along with eliminating some unnecessary wagering limits.

The support for legal gaming during the election polls shows how more people are accepting an industry that has been negatively viewed by many over the years, despite its apparent contribution to economic growth in host communities.

A casino historian at the University of Nevada, David Schwartz, said it appears that Americans are becoming more comfortable with legalized gambling. The inclusion of casinos in Virginia and racetrack casinos in Nebraska indicates that casino-style gambling is on the upswing as well. Voters seem satisfied that legalizing gambling will offer positive returns for their state and seem interested in voting towards its expansion.

Jim Cramer, CNBC Mad Money host, said that states would see an upside in the tax money from enterprises such as sportsbooks and Casinos, adding that the sports betting industry is taking the country by storm.

Cramer stated that the Election Day results were a “huge victory” for the betting industry and that DraftKings, Penn National Gaming, and MGM Resorts are now in a position to benefit significantly from the recent spread of sports betting.

Caesars Entertainment released a statement through CEO Tom Reeg, thanking voters for approving the Danville proposal saying that they look forward to fulfilling the trust which voters have placed in them by providing 1,300 well-paying jobs, tourism dollars, and economic development to the city. He also expressed how excited they are to begin construction.

The Nationwide expansion

In 19 states and the District of Columbia, legal sports wagering is in operation. When Maryland, Louisiana, and South Dakota start accepting bets, this number will rise to 22. In Virginia, North Carolina, and Washington, sports betting has been licensed, but it is still not in operation.

By the end of 2021, at least 25 states and the District of Columbia would have legal sports betting in place.

The ballot question in South Dakota permits the Deadwood casinos to add in-person sports betting. Mobile sports betting, the largest and fastest-growing portion of the industry, is still not allowed at this time.

Casinos in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek in Colorado could remove restrictions that limit the maximum bets to $100. New games comprising baccarat, keno, and a spinning wheel, will also be available.

The vote in Louisiana allows sports betting in the 55 areas where residents approved the measure. The measure failed in nine parts of Louisiana, mostly north-central. However, before sports betting becomes legal, legislators must set up a tax structure and regulations. This is expected to happen next year.

The sports betting ballot item in Maryland received more than 66 percent of the vote. This result paves the way for legislators to approve legislation to tax and regulate the betting industry.

A downturn for tourism alongside the expansion

As gaming expands nationwide, it should also be noted that following the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March, Las Vegas has grappled with a tourism slump. Due to low market demand, big gaming and hotel resort, Encore, at Wynn Las Vegas, is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Another hotel-casino in Vegas, Park MGM, announced earlier this week that it would close only the hotel portion of its site. It is expected that this closure, also triggered by low midweek demand, would last until December.

The midweek downturn of the industry is the consequence of part of a falloff in conventions. David Schwartz noted that when the pandemic seems under control, and when people feel relaxed about traveling, tourism could pick up again.

The effects of this on the casino industry is apparent, as fewer tourists mean fewer players in the casino halls.

All the same, the effect of good news for the casino industry will become apparent after the pandemic has been contained.


Logan is based in Los Angeles and is an avid poker player having played in tournaments across the globe. He covers both poker & regulatory affairs.