Connecticut is one of only 6 states to legalize online options
By Wayne Parry
As sports betting swept states, casinos and across the country with consumers eagerly embracing the new gambling market, internet casino gaming grew more slowly.
The online casino market has great potential for growth and expansion, attendees at a major casino conference said Friday.
Speaking at the East Coast Gaming Congress, executives from online gambling companies and their technology partners said the rapid growth of sports betting has provided a ready-made infrastructure and regulatory apparatus for online casino gaming.
So far, this type of gambling is legal in only six states: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia, Delaware and Connecticut.
But panelists at the conference predicted three or four additional states could soon adopt Internet gambling, including Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and New York.
In addition, more than a dozen states sell lottery tickets online, according to James Carey, executive director of the New Jersey Lottery.
“I’m sure there’s a lot of room for growth,” said Jeffrey Millar, commercial director of North American operations for online casino content provider Evolution.
“The development of this industry is still in its infancy in the United States,” said David Rebuck, New Jersey’s top gambling regulator, as director of the state’s Department of Gaming Enforcement.
Richard Schwartz, CEO of Chicago-based online gambling company Rush Street Interactive, said that already legal sports betting is a strong candidate to take over online casino games.
“They already have regulators,” he said. “They have servers. It’s faster to add a casino.”
Currently, 31 states and Washington, DC offer legal sports betting, with several more expected to do so soon.
Since launching Internet gambling nine years ago, New Jersey casinos have generated $4.79 billion from online gamblers, according to the American Gaming Association, the casino industry’s national trade group. That’s nearly double the $2.47 billion earned online by Pennsylvania casinos since July 2019.
Michigan has earned $2 billion online since January 2021; Connecticut $199.7 million from October 2021; West Virginia $137.4 million since July 2020; and Delaware $42.2 million since December 2013. Nevada offers online poker, but doesn’t separate that revenue from the casinos’ reporting to the state.
These figures are for online casino games only and do not include separately reported sports betting revenue.
New Jersey is on the verge of extending its internet gambling law for another 10 years, and at Thursday’s opening session of the casino conference, the state’s Democratic governor, Phil Murphy, vowed to sign the bill into law if it passes.
A 2018 US Supreme Court ruling in a New Jersey case cleared the way for all 50 states to offer legal sports betting. With this rapid expansion came the expectation in some quarters that internet gambling would almost automatically grow at the same rate.
“It didn’t happen,” said Howard Glaser, head of government affairs and legislative counsel at Light & Wonder, the successor to gambling technology firm Scientific Games.
He said there are concerns among some state lawmakers in particular that Internet gambling could siphon off revenue and customers from brick-and-mortar casinos — though the gambling industry has not.
When New Jersey launched internet gambling in November 2013, casinos initially had the same concerns. Luisa Woods is vice president of Delaware North, a gambling, hospitality and sports company that owns casinos in New York, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, West Virginia and Ohio. .
He was previously head of digital operations at Atlantic City’s Tropicana casino in 2013.
“The first thing I did was to sell the company I wasn’t here to compete with your business; I’m here to help him grow,” he said. “We integrated the brand, created loyalty accounts for each remote customer. We had people who were showing up at the property for the first time and had already been assigned a host.