2008 – 2009 was a very active period for US gaming expansion, with many states adding new sectors or expanding existing gaming industries. This wave of expansion was unprecedented in recent times. But it seems 2012/13 might be similar, with gaming proposals being put forward even in some of the most unexpected states.
Florida is one state that has started talks about launching commercial casinos. There were several versions of the casino bill proposed in recent months, with most recent change to Fresen-Bogdanoff bill made in January 2012. Many operators have expressed interest in the state. Genting has already purchased land in Florida, LVS is in the process of acquiring land. Caesars and Wynn have also expressed interest, as have local investors. Of course, they will all have to overcome the opposition of the powerful Seminole tribe to make casinos a reality.
New York has opened its first, highly successful, racino in the New York City. Probably prompted by Genting’s racino success, the new Governor Cuomo and the legislature have reached a preliminary agreement to pursue expanded gaming in the form of traditional casinos. The measure could take two years to pass.
Maryland is finally expected to award the licence for the downtown Baltimore racino during 2012. The first phase of the largest Maryland slot venue, the controversial Maryland Live! Casino development adjacent to a shopping mall in Anne Arundel County is planned to open in mid-2012.
A Texas businessman is interested in bringing casinos to Arkansas. He needs to collect 77,133 signatures to put the issue on the November 2012 ballot. After many delays, Illinois VLTs are expected to be operational in H2 2012.
But it is not just the land based industry that is expanding, but also the Internet gambling industry.
After 23 December 2011, when the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) published a September memorandum opinion which basically states that the Wire Act applies only to sports betting, it seems state-by-state legislation is closer than ever. GBGC still maintain that the federal government is highly unlikely to allow Internet gambling in the election year.
DC has legalised Internet poker operated by the DC Lottery in early 2011, but they seem to have got ahead of themselves as there has been very little progress in the field since the law was passed.
Other states are also considering legalising intrastate Internet gaming: New Jersey’s Internet bill passed both chambers of the legislature in 2011, only to be vetoed by the Governor. However, it will be reintroduced in the 2012 legislative session.
In late 2011 Iowa allowed remote wagering on horse races, which is expected to kick off in April 2012. More states are expected to unveil Internet gambling bills during 2012 legislative session.
Of course, not all of the proposals will come to fruition. But with the squeeze continuing to press upon state budgets and finances it will be an eventful 18 months for the US gaming industry as Governors look to gaming expansion as new source of voluntary taxation from their citizens.