Are We Connected Yet?

Sports on, British Columbia's new gambling website.
Sports on, British Columbia’s new gambling website.

The competition between states is heating up, it is changing the landscape and creating some strange bedfellows.  Atlantic City is being attacked from all sides and it isn’t over yet with the games just opened in Pennsylvania and Delaware, Ohio, New York, Maryland and Massachusetts all have something in the works.  The New Jersey legislature, the governor and indeed most of the politicians in the state are very sensitive to the danger, even the gaming regulators are willing to ease up to help – a legislative committee is scheduled to meet and develop some strategies for helping AC stay afloat.

Massachusetts is drawing some interesting bidders, Steve Wynn has people looking around and is rumored to have a local developer interested in a joint venture; Steve couldn’t be in Boston because he was in New York buying a $25 million condo, but he did tell investors that Massachusetts was the only thing that would bring him back from Asia.  The Seminole Tribe is studying the options and looking at locations and so is Penn National – but the developers may all have to wait, it seems the state senate and house can’t come to a compromise bill and the governor says it is possible they won’t have a bill this year.  Several individual communities are limning up casino developers and trying to convince the legislators to add them to the bill. Everyone agrees they want gambling, they just don’t agree on where, how or by whom and each proposal seems to be in support of a favored candidate or location.

In Connecticut, the two Indian tribes with casinos reported less gaming revenue, again, citing the usual causes – competition and the economy.  They can expect more from New York, the state is still reviewing a license to operate slot machines in Queens and an Indian tribe received federal recognition and will seek a casino. Back in Connecticut, a newly formed organization is going to fight the federal recognition of New York tribe because its gaming operation would hurt those in Connecticut – bad economic times make for strange bedfellows.

And that brings me to the lead story, the Canadian province of British Columbia opened the first legal online casino in North America today.  The justification is what every state in the United States is using for expanding gaming – “We need the money and besides if we don’t do it our citizens will (and are) spend their money elsewhere.”  The bedfellows in this case are the online gaming operators and the government, an unthinkable combination a few years ago.

But, it is only a matter of time before it happens in the U. S. – the governor of Ohio is using the lottery as a vehicle to put slot machines a race tracks, he lost the legal battle the first time, but he is coming back.  And, that in my opinion is how it will happen, a lottery director and a governor will create online gaming with voter or legislative approval.  For all of the casinos struggling under the weight of the economy and competition and waiting for the other shoe to drop, that is the other shoe.  It fell today in British Columbia.


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July 2010
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