If you enjoy politics and gambling, the last few have been an exciting time to follow national and statewide politics as it relates to online gambling. The other interesting aspect to follow is the reactions of traditional land-based casinos as they deal with the threat of online casinos and changing demographics. In many cases, the reactions from two different entities are completely different. In this article, we will discuss some of the reasons why both governments and traditional casinos are so unsure how to handle the rise of online gambling.
Gambling has always been a difficult issue for politicians, especially those in religious parts of the country. Almost all levels of government fight for tax revenue and gambling is an easy target for high taxes, assuming the state can convince their constituents to allow gambling to begin with. But this becomes even more important as we move into an age where online gambling is rapidly gaining on traditional casinos. This competition forms strange relationships and even situations where the land-based casinos have a hard time justifying their positions as anything other than greed.
Traditional casinos have deep pockets and well-established lobbying relationship with politicians going back decades. Some of the most important battles being fought in states like New York and Florida are being championed by politicians who have been in the pocket of traditional casinos for a long time. In Florida and New York, the lobbying basically is that the casinos want much more liberal laws regarding the expansion of gambling, without allowing online gambling. New Jersey has taken a different approach and the casinos there are fully on board with online gambling, assuming it is funneled through their traditional casinos. Las Vegas is even more complex as the competing casinos do not have a unified vision of how their resorts should work with online gambling. Some of the wealthiest casino owners, with deep lobbying power, are following Florida where they do not want any online gambling, while other Las Vegas casinos are lobbying for looser rules that allow online gambling, then they plan to compete in that new area.
As can be expected, state governments are all over the map with online gambling. Many states have had decades of fighting for or against land-based casinos. In recent years many states have finally gotten around to accepting traditional casinos…and they are somewhat unwilling to start yet another round of battles regarding online gambling. Other states have been much more willing to add yet another source of tax revenues and are really leading the way into adapting online gambling into their current systems. New Jersey is the perfect example of this. New Jersey gambling has suffered for the past couple decades as tourism to destinations such as Atlantic City has plummeted ( mainly as the result of nearby states finally getting into the gambling business). For this reason, New Jersey has led the way in including online gambling as part of its portfolio. This has paid off big with tax revenues from online gambling already accounting for a significant portion of gambling taxes collected. It is almost impossible to think that other states will not see the success of New Jersey and not follow suit. Probably the exception will be stated in which traditional casinos do not want to get into online gambling and also have powerful lobbying ability. This often includes states with politically powerful Native American tribes such as Florida.