13 States that Could Benefit from Online Gaming
When the American Gaming Association (AGA) recently posted its annual State of the States report for 2017, it wasn’t of much interest to most online poker and internet gaming enthusiasts. The 116-page report barely mentions internet gaming except as the burgeoning industry contributed to the overall revenue of commercial casinos in New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada.
But a closer look at the “State of the States 2018: The AGA Survey of the Commercial Casino Industry” report shows the tremendous potential for online gaming in the United States. While the overall state of the industry is positive and showing growth, there are some states that have seen downswings in their gambling tax revenue, especially with increasing competition from neighboring states.
It’s important to look at the land-based industry as a tool for online gaming supporters but also as a sign of the strength of gambling in America. And as the sports betting industry is in the midst of unprecedented growth in the wake of the US Supreme Court decision overturning PASPA, more states are looking to sports betting in partnership with their casinos and racinos to boost revenue. New Jersey, however, is one of the few that is putting sports wagering opportunities online, something that could benefit many more states, especially if combined with other forms of online gaming.
Not Too Shabby
The news about the overall US gaming industry is positive. In 2017, the $40.28 billion in gaming revenue translated into a 3.4% increase year-on-year. That means there has been growth nearly every year since the end of the economic recession in 2009. And the vast majority of the 24 states with commercial casinos saw annual revenue increases. In fact, there were revenue records set in 11 of those states: Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
In total, US commercial casinos employed more than 361,000 employees last year, and they earned more than $17 billion in wages, benefits and tips.
As for tribal casinos, those were operational in 28 states in 2017 and set an annual revenue record of $32.4 billion, which was a 3.9% increase from 2016.
Top Gaming Markets
Two of the top 10 gaming markets in the US are already in the online gaming market, with Nevada (Las Vegas Strip ranked #1) offering internet poker and New Jersey (Atlantic City ranked #2) having legalized online poker, casino games, and sports betting.
Philadelphia is ranked #7 and the Poconos #10 on the list, so it will only benefit that casino market to be launching online gaming within the next year, as it was legalized in late 2017.
The other markets in the top 10 are, in order, as follows:
–Chicagoland (Illinois and Indiana)
–Baltimore/Washington D.C. (Maryland and West Virginia)
–New York City (New York)
–Gulf Coast (Mississippi)
–St. Louis (Missouri)
Illinois and Michigan are the states that have most seriously considered online gaming, and both have bills open that could still pass in 2018. New York had momentum for several years but failed to make progress in 2018, so it remains to be seen if lawmakers will consider a proposal in 2019.
Maryland, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Missouri have yet to seriously consider online poker or gaming bills to expand their reach to more customers, but they remain prime candidates for a market with massive growth potential.
With only a handful of states experiencing downswings in annual casino revenue, it would make sense for those states to consider legislation that would widen their customer bases. There are two AGA charts that indicate which states fall into this category.
First, there are four states that saw decreases in commercial casino gaming consumer spend:
–New Mexico (-2.09%)
–West Virginia (-4.61%)
Second, there were eight states showing decreases in commercial casino direct gaming tax revenue:
–South Dakota (-1.70%)
–New Mexico (-2.09%)
–Rhode Island (-2.13%)
–West Virginia (-3.83%)
Illinois, Mississippi, New Mexico, and West Virginia appear on both lists, though only Illinois has taken the possibility of online gaming seriously. There was one West Virginia lawmaker that wanted to follow in New Jersey’s footsteps, but he did not find enough likeminded members of the state legislature to push a bill forward in 2017.
The future of gaming is going to coordinate with technology to offer more players the chance to gamble on the go. Many casinos already offer play-money apps or gambling available from their hotel rooms on site. But for most of the casinos to reach new customers and garner the interest of a new generation of gamblers, online gambling is the wave of the future.