Saturday, June 15, 2024

Online casinos are future for US gambling industry, claim insiders

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Online casino gambling is the future for the sector, according to several industry insiders in the US.

This week at the SBC Summit North America, a major gambling industry conference, there was an acceptance of the difficulty faced so far in launching internet casinos but executives are convinced it is the future of betting.

Online sportsbooks have experienced a rapid proliferation across the US, available in 38 states as well as Washington D.C. but there has been no such success for casino betting to date.

Within the industry, there is some concern about the impact internet casino betting would have on brick-and-mortar venues, whilst others are alarmed at the prospects of harming gamblers by effectively putting a casino in their pocket. Can enough be done to promote responsible gambling in an online environment compared to the face-to-face setting provided by a casino complex?

There are obstacles but many are adamant that online casinos, and smartphone betting in particular, are the future.

Which US states have legal online casinos?

Only seven US states currently permit legal online casino games: Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia. In Nevada, players can get involved with Internet poker but not in casino games.

This is dwarfed by the massive presence of online sports betting across America but the industry appears prepared to face the challenge.

Sports wagers exploded after the US Supreme Court decreed in 2018 to allow any state to offer legal sports betting. The bets “took off like a rocket,” said Shawn Fluharty, a West Virginia legislator and president of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States.

“Many people thought i-gaming would follow suit,” he added. “That has not taken place.”

Brandt Iden, a vice president with Fanatics Betting & Gaming, agreed. He said, “It’s been a rough road, I-gaming is paramount; this is the direction the industry needs to go to be successful, and this is where consumers want it to go.”

Speakers at the summit look to sports gambling, with many bets placed on a smartphone. They also want recognition of the danger posed (and loss of tax money) from illegal, offshore websites that pull in gamblers from across the US with no duty of care to customers.

The industry can always do more to promote responsible gambling and ensure customer protections are in place, but this is something not provided by unregulated sites. State lawmakers will be approached and lobbied on these matters to increase the case for internet casino games.

FanDuel senior director Cesar Fernandez pointed to the public purse. He said online casinos should be an attractive proposition to states, especially as federal aid has fallen since the pandemic.

“Since 2018, FanDuel has paid $3.2 billion in taxes. That’s a lot of teacher salaries, a lot of police officers and firefighters,” he said, arguing greater state returns from gambling reduces the burden on residents to pay more tax.

However, some insist the pursuit of online gambling will continue to hurt physical casinos, a trend which has already gathered pace.

“We’re setting ourselves up for our own failure,” said Rob Norton, president of Cordish Gaming. 

Norton is a prominent voice speaking up for the gambling venues which have been losing customers to the internet, as he cited with Maryland.

He said that once online sports betting commenced in the Old Line State, in-person sports betting revenue in the company’s Maryland Live! casino fell by 65% “and has stayed there.” Norton further claimed there has been a drop of around 7,000 people entering the physical casino, every day since the online sportsbook market started. 

Image credit: Ideogram

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