Slip Sliding Away
The calendar has yet to flip to 2024, and the top online gambling candidates are already falling by the wayside.
The Bulletin Board
NEWS: Marylanders overwhelmingly support online gambling legalization in a new survey, but does it matter?
BEYOND the HEADLINE: Could Maryland mimic Nevada and go poker-only?
WAY BEYOND the HEADLINE: Labor opposes online gambling in Maryland.
NEWS: The North Carolina launch timeline comes into focus, but numerous steps remain before an official launch can be pinned down.
NEWS: Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, just say no to gambling expansions.
AROUND THE WATERCOOLER: You can’t stop people from talking about gambling.
STRAY THOUGHTS: Unique content is in short supply.
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76% of Marylanders Would Vote to Legalize Online Casinos
2024 isn’t looking good for online gambling expansion.
Indiana has already been placed on season-ending IR, and now Maryland is looking more and more like a long shot despite some favorable survey numbers.
Maryland’s online gambling study did an excellent job of making the case for online casino and poker legalization, but it also had one giant red flag. According to The Innovation Group (TIG), there is a 10% difference in land-based casino growth in online casino states.
TIG “observed 2% same-store casino revenue growth in non-iGaming states, versus an 8.2% decline in iGaming states, suggesting a cannibalization rate of approximately 10% of casino gaming revenue.”
That, along with ever-present problem gambling concerns, puts legalization on a tenuous footing in Maryland. That said, Marylanders overwhelmingly support legalization, according to a poll conducted by MDBetting.com, an affiliate site owned by Ribacka Media AB.
I don’t put a lot of stock in industry-backed polling or surveys, but the phrasing of the question was pretty straightforward:
Would you vote in favor of online casino legalization in Maryland in 2024 if it’s on the ballot?
75.84% of respondents said yes.
Beyond the Headline: Could Maryland Go Poker-Only?
The Baltimore Sun editorial board also made the case against legalizing online casino games.
“We trust Gov. Wes Moore and lawmakers will not embrace this potential expansion of gambling — essentially offering casino games online — without a full appreciation of the harm it could wreak on a lot of Marylanders.”
Of note, the editorial board does support one form of gambling expansion: the legalization of online poker, with a strange live-online mechanism.
“Our recommendation then is to go slowly and cautiously. Only a handful of states have legalized online casino gambling — including New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and West Virginia. One compromise might be, for example, to permit online poker games alone and then only with live dealers.”
Poker-only (with or without the live dealer component) would satisfy the cannibalization concerns raised in the TIG report.
The flipside is online poker won’t produce the revenues Maryland is looking for.
But, The Baltimore Sun editorial board may have accidentally stumbled upon a good compromise if full-fledged online casino gambling is off the table: Legalizing online poker and live dealer online games, similar to how table games are handled in Rhode Island’s online gambling law passed earlier this year.
My POV: The dearth of online casino legalization is a clarion call for new ideas, and small steps forward are better than no steps forward.
Way Beyond the Headline: Labor Opposes Online Gambling
Lessening Maryland’s online gambling chances was an opinion article in the Baltimore Sun from the president of UNITE HERE Local 7 and executive secretary-treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 25 that stated in part, “the expansion of online gambling would eliminate casino jobs and reduce the incentive to invest in or expand Maryland’s casinos.”
As expected, the union leaders pointed to the glaring red flag that is the TIG study’s 10% cannibalization finding, which I suspect will fuel opposition to online gambling in Maryland and beyond.
“Maryland’s six brick and mortar casinos directly employ 6,715 people and generate an annual economic impact of $2.96 billion that supports 15,364 jobs in the state,” the op-ed states. “A 10.2% reduction in gaming revenue would mean a loss of 685 direct jobs and 1,567 total jobs in Maryland.”
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NC Mobile Betting Will Not Be Ready for the Super Bowl
The latest news out of North Carolina has mobile sports betting launching after the Super Bowl but possibly before March Madness, according to North Carolina Lottery Commissioner Ripley Rand.
The timeline laid out last week by the Lottery Commission is as follows:
Sportsbooks, suppliers, and service operators must submit license applications by December 27.
The state has 90 days to approve the application (60 days plus a 30-day extension).
That takes a pre-Super Bowl launch off the table. If the entire 90-day timeframe is used, it would place the launch around mid-March, in time for the NCAA tournament.
How quickly the state can approve applications is dependent on:
How many application the state receives (Deputy Executive Director Gaming Compliance and Sports Betting Sterl Carpenter anticipates hundreds of applications)
How thorough the applications are (no missing information)
When they are submitted (the sooner, the better)
Texas Lt. Gov. Throws Cold Water on Casino Prospects
With the news that Mark Cuban has sold a majority stake in the Dallas Mavericks to Miriam Adelson, the gambling world is getting very excited about the prospect of Texas casinos.
However, according to Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who, thanks to a quirky legislative rule, has the final say on what gets brought up in the Texas Senate, “My experience and my knowledge is that we aren’t even close to having 15 votes or 16 votes for casinos.”
In addition to Patrick’s comments, the Texas legislature only meets in odd-number years, so any movement toward legalizing casino gambling must wait until 2025.
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Around the Watercooler
Social media conversations, rumors, and gossip.
A perfect example of the unenforceable rules I talked about last week: all the RG messaging in the world and all the regulatory mandates can’t stop people from talking about gambling, like this example Jamie Salsburg tweeted.
Salsburg also pointed out that the streamer organically and naturally inserted his own RG advice.
He later highlighted this nonsensical chatter on TikTok (which I highlighted with an arrow) that you can find all over the internet and in real life.
There isn’t a lot of unique content in this industry. Follow two dozen gambling industry writers on X (Twitter) and every time a story drops, you’ll see it reported two dozen times.
Interviews are a great way to generate unique content. Still, with politicians being politicians, public companies careful not to disclose information, and no one wanting to upset regulators, candid comments are in short supply.
One exception on the unique content front is John Mehaffey. I’ve known John for many years (he’s an OG in the online gambling space) and have always been impressed by his knowledge of the gambling industry and games, but even more so, his ability to produce unique content for gamblers.
John’s home base is Vegas Advantage, where you’ll find trip reports, casino closures and renovation updates, detailed casino game information (including his long-running Table Game Survey), promotions, and more.
Check out John’s site and give him a follow on X for some of the best Vegas content available.