Unlike other states that regulated and are now enjoying a decent revenue through online gambling, Nevada has remained largely empty-handed. So far the Silver State has only allowed online poker.
Due to the pandemic, the land-based casinos had to shut down, and Nevada, as one of the world’s biggest casino markets, bore the brunt of this calamity.
Expansion of US Online Gambling
Though the COVID-19 has affected every country in the world, it has particularly hit the US casino establishments. The land-based casinos were forced to shut down in March in the wake of official measures to curb the virus.
So, the gambling revenue for April and May while all casinos were closed, Nevada’s gambling revenue was a mere $9.44 million, representing a 99 percent drop from the same period, April and May, in 2019.
Nevada’s Revenue Dropped
While other states were benefiting from legal online gambling with online and table games options, Nevada was telling a different story. While speaking on the situation, iDEA Growth John Pappas spokesmen said:
“From our organization’s perspective, Nevada is missing out. We realize that change in Nevada has to be spearheaded by the land-based casinos.”
While states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania drew $178.4 million and $108 million, respectively, with digital gambling generating more than 75 percent of the revenue, Nevada was left behind.
Analyzing the situation, Chris Grove, the analyst at Eilers and Krejcik Gaming Research, said:
“It’s clear to us that the introduction of online casinos would have a supplementary impact on the total amount of gaming revenue generated by the Nevada market.”
Nevada Online Gambling
For decades, Nevada has been a leader in the brick and mortar casino gambling industry. Its excellence at the real scene of gambling perhaps contributed to its neglect towards online gambling. Until now, it never considered seriously regulating online gaming fully.
Nevada Restricts Online Gambling Legalization
In 2002, Nevada lawmakers briefly legalized online gambling. However, on being reminded the US federal law bans internet gambling, they halted efforts.
When the authorities reinterpreted the Federal Wire Act leading many states to legalize online gambling, Nevada restricted itself to approve only online poker. That was in 2013. Since then, there has been little initiative towards any further reform.
It’s an open secret that huge companies like Las Vegas Sands Corp have been opposing the move for decades. Its CEO and chairman, Sheldon Adelson, publicly vowed to kill the activity no matter if he had to spend millions to do it.
What about Sports Betting?
However, sports betting is a different story. In 2018, MGM Resorts and GVC Holdings teamed up and former Roar Digital that oversees the BetMGM app. Now, the app has gone live in seven states and is likely to go live in four more states by the end of this year.
With the recent $1 billion investment through IAC, MGM’s interactive gaming business is expected to flourish.
It’s Up to States Now
The COVID-19 situation is uncertain, even though there have been global efforts to keep it from spreading, besides finding a vaccine. However, as long as the virus persists, online gambling is likely to flourish. That’s an ironically evident phenomenon we have been witnessing for the last months. Understandably, people do not want to risk their lives by placing just a few wagers at a land-based casino where it is hard to avoid social distancing.
It also reflects that the states that have not regulated online gambling are missing out on a significant revenue source. Before the pandemic outbreak, seven states had pending bills in 2020 spring. Though the officials suspended sessions independently, the passage of the bills could draw a lucrative source of revenue for their cash-starved economies.
The rise of online gambling in the US is evident. It is only a matter of “when” the states decide to make a move. As Nevada keeps losing gambling revenue, it’s the time to reconsider its policy towards online gambling.