Five Trends that Will Dominate U.S. Gambling News in 2017
2017 is expected to be a year of uncertainty and suspense in the political and economic spheres. The same might be said of the gambling industry, especially in the United States.
Here are five trends or issues which are likely to dominate US gambling news in 2017. While unforeseen events are certain to make their impact, these are the predictable trends and news stories you can expect.
1. Sports Betting Legalization
The fight to legalize sports betting in the United States is going to be a key issue in 2017. The U.S. Supreme Court currently is reviewing an amicus brief submitted to them by the attorney generals of 5 US states, including New Jersey.
The amicus brief was submitted after the Supreme Court requested New Jersey to do so. A very good chance exists that the Supreme Court is going to hear New Jersey’s appeal of a decision rendered by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in August 2016 on the issue of sports betting.
The case stems from New Jersey’s attempt to reform its sports gambling laws in October 2014, which would have allowed Monmouth Park and William Hill to operate a sportsbook. The NFL, NBA, MLB, and other sports associations sued, winning two court cases which involved New Jersey’s attempts to circumvent the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
The US Supreme Court therefore plans to review the PASPA law. While New Jersey has lost 5 cases based on its challenge of PASPA, many see the sports betting ban to be unfair and perhaps unconstitutional. Even if the PASPA withstands a Supreme Court decision, President Donald Trump might look to review the case. He once supported New Jersey’s attempts to legalize sports betting back in the 1990s.
2. Online Gambling Legislation
Online gambling legislation might have starker changes even than sports betting laws in America. 2017 could be the year that Internet gambling laws are settled for good in the United States. With a new administration in the White House, matters could go either direction.
First, the movement toward legalized online gambling in states like Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and California is coming closer to fruition than in previous years. New York state has considered legalizing online poker, while several other states (Indiana and Illinois) have discussed the proposition. If more states legalized online gambling, it would strengthen the industry and make it harder for Capitol Hill (and Sheldon Adelson) to uproot.
On the other hand, storm clouds are gathering in Washington D.C. in 2017. Restore America’s Wire Act could be resurrected under some form, as a Republican Congress finally has a GOP president to sign its bills into law. Also, Donald Trump picked Jeff Sessions — one of the most anti-gambling senators in the United States — as his Attorney General. With Sessions in control of the Department of Justice, the Alabama senator could strike down online gambling with a simple change of the 2011 DoJ opinion on online casinos and poker sites.
As always, President-Elect Donald Trump is the great wild card. Some see his ascension to the White House as a good sign for gambling, since he is a former casino owner. Yet Trump is friends with Sheldon Adelson, who is on Trump’s Inauguration Committee, and he is the one who appointed Jeff Sessions. Do not assume Donald Trump is necessarily going to be an ally of online gambling, because other brick-and-mortar executives have been some of online gambling’s worst adversaries.
3. Caesars Entertainment’s Bankruptcy
Over the past 10 years, Caesars Entertainment’s fortunes have gone in a different direction than the other three big Las Vegas casino companies: MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts, and Las Vegas Sands Corp. Those three companies made huge gains with their investments in Macau properties, which supplanted Las Vegas as the biggest casino destination of the world. Yet Caesars still owns more properties in the United States than any other casino company.
Thus, if Caesars Entertainment is able to get the CEOC bankruptcy case behind it and remain solvent, then it could begin to compete on a more equal footing with its three rivals. That could have a tremendous impact in foreign investments in South Korea, Japan, and Canada (Toronto). It also would have a tremendous role in online gambling and land-based American gambling expansion.
Despite its troubles in the past years, Caesars Interactive was an innovator in the online and mobile gambling industry. Its Playtika brand particularly had an impact. That brand was sold to a Chinese company, but Caesars might finally turn the corner in 2017. A healthy Caesars Entertainment would help the American gambling industry in many ways.
4. Gaming Machine Innovations
Brick-and-mortar gaming machine technology continues to evolve, especially because casino operators want to find a way to attract millennials. By now, it is known that millennials don’t like casinos as much as previous generations, often because they find games of chance like slot machines unfulfilling.
To change their attitudes, casino companies are investing in skill-based slots, eSports studios, virtual sports betting, and live dealer electronic baccarat and roulette studios. Most of these new forms of gambling allow elements of skill in the game, while others allow millennials to gamble on traditional table games without the same level of social interaction required by traditional baccarat and roulette.
Some of the early experiments have been rough. For instance, many have not been impressed with the first releases of skill-based slot machines, which are clunky and seem to involve the illusion of skill gaming, instead of real gaming skills. These are the rough drafts of new gambling forms, so players should expect them to improve over time. 2017 should be a chance to see that technology evolve.
5. Mobile Casino Evolution
Mobile gambling online is becoming more pronounced and mainstream. Mobile casinos eventually will constitute 60% of all online gambling, or perhaps more. Many online casinos still limit the number of mobile games they support, but that is rapidly changing.
Some online casinos are designed entirely for mobile smartphones and tablet computers. With Flash and HTML5 design advancing, casinos like Bovada, Ignition Casino, and Slots.lv provide their entire list of games for Android and Apple iOS devices. In 2017 and 2018, expect more American and international online casinos to go in that direction.
2017 Gambling News Stories
Keep reading for the latest American gambling news stories in 2017, because the new administration is certain to have an impact on the industry. It is impossible to predict the biggest events, but gambling legislation and technological trends are going to be a big part of industry news in the coming year.