The global pandemic has affected many industries across the globe, especially the gambling industry. While online casinos seem to be thriving, the land-based casino industry is suffering.
For US Casinos, this situation could lead to many different outcomes, including rethinking online gambling.
While some US land-based casinos have started gradually reopening, the majority remain closed due to COVID-19.
With the massive effect, this has on the economy, the government might soon push to legalise online gambling in more US states.
Getting back in the game
After weeks of closure, multiple US Casinos have started opening with less than desirable outcomes. For the past few weeks, there have been various spot checks on the number of customers visiting casinos.
The tribal casinos have reopened gradually, while many commercial casinos remain shut on state orders. It’s a sad time in the industry, especially for Native American tribes that rely heavily on casino revenue to fund their sovereign nations.
While land-based casino gameplay has taken a huge hit even with the gradual reopenings, internet casino gameplay has seen a considerable surge in play. In New Jersey, online gameplay jumped to 65.6% in March, and Pennsylvania raked in online gross gaming revenue of $24.3 million. The latter is quite a large number considering online gambling only went live in this state last summer.
The rise of online gambling
The coronavirus pandemic could lead to a quicker expansion of sports betting and online gambling in the US. This is due to the enormous budget deficits and the search for new tax revenue in many states.
While many of the significant sports remain shut down due to the virus the European soccer and Asian baseball have started, NASCAR is racing, and the PGA Tour Golf has begun again. Other major US sports leagues, including the NBA and NHL, are already planning to start their seasons up again.
It is the belief that the virus will lead to the accelerated expansion of sports betting and online casinos in the next 12 – 24 months. With legalised sports betting and online casinos states whose economies have taken a hit due to the outbreak have the opportunity to capture new revenue immediately in the form of upfront license fees and overtime through taxes.
So far, 18 US states offer sports betting and only four online gambling, which includes online casino games, slots and poker. Furthermore, Virginia and Tennessee have approved sports betting but haven’t launched. In North Carolina, two tribal casinos can offer sports betting, but plans are in motion to implement a bill allowing sports betting to be offered statewide.
States to legalize sports and online gambling
When taking a look at the US states and the US gambling regulations, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Ohio are the more realistic candidates to legalise sports betting this year. Louisiana is close to approving a November referendum on sports betting.
Ohio has a bill in motion that could authorise both sports betting and mobile betting, but it has some limits in place which includes in-person bets at casinos and race tracks.
California legislators have also started promoting sports betting to help the state budget with its $54 billion deficit. Illinois is another state that could approve internet gambling by the end of the year to help recoup tax revenue due to the virus outbreak.
And while the New York state Sen. Joseph Addabbo has been pushing for mobile and online sports betting legalisation to help generate new revenue, it has been greatly opposed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The Governor believes that approving mobile sports betting would require amending the state’s constitution.
The future of land-based casinos
The reality is that online casinos might become the future of gambling for many states in the near future. While many states are reopening the doors of their brick and mortar casinos, locals aren’t rushing to pay them a visit. Instead, more and more people are choosing online casinos vs land-based.
It’s essential to consider the post-pandemic mindset and to breach those borders. For many, fear will prevent them from spending a long time in enclosed spaces with strangers where there is a chance of catching the virus.
With social distancing safeguards are still in place, gamblers will currently prefer online gambling options that can be enjoyed from the comfort of their home. Once the pandemic is over, it could also take quite some time before people are entirely comfortable with being in an open environment again due to fear of the unknown and the possibility of being infected still.
The only way to keep afloat and secure the economy of the individual US states could be to legalise sports betting and online casino gameplay.