The Love of Gambling is in the Air


Ballys received a Nevada gaming license for online gaming- the first one issued in the United States;  the Cordish Company opened its 4700-slot machine casino in Maryland – Maryland Live!; and a partnership that includes Caesars got permission to put slot machines in a racetrack in Ohio.  A report was released in Rhode Island suggesting that Rhode Island had to add more gambling to compete with Massachusetts and the federal government recognized the rights of two Indian tribes to pursue a casino – one in Alabama and one in California.  And the president of the Borough of Brooklyn suggested his borough should be the home of a New York City casino.  And that was just the news from today, Thursday, June 7, 2012.

It is spring and love is in the air.  Oh, wait  – it is really nearly summer; and for the gaming industry, it is expansion, not love that is in the air.  Casinos are opening in New Jersey, California, Mississippi, and most recently, in Ohio, Maine and Maryland.  And in Ohio, Maine and Maryland there are those who want even more, they want to expand the gambling options past today’s limits.  That is also true in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Nevada, California, Illinois, Florida, Oregon, Michigan and more; many of those states have reached the end of possible casino expansion and are looking toward the internet as the ultimate gaming option.   The momentum is driven by four factors; there are local communities looking for economic development and employment; there are states looking for more tax revenues and fees; there are gaming operators looking for more places to ply their trade; and there are politicians looking for an issue to ride into the upcoming election season.

Of course, with all of that momentum and energy plunging toward a more perfect gambling union, there are those who would stop that momentum and reverse the tides of expansion. Family-First organizations in 13 states have banned together to fight the spread of internet gambling and have asked congress to take decisive action.  In Michigan the existing gaming interests, the casinos in Detroit and the Indian casinos in the state, have banned together to fight a petition drive aimed at putting a referendum to expand gaming in Michigan on the ballot in November.  In Massachusetts, the head of the gaming commission, the commission charged with initiating casino gambling in the state is warning, before the regulations are even written, that casinos will hurt the lottery and hurt those who benefit from the lottery revenues.  Even in Maryland with a brand-spanking-new, giant slot-machine casino, there is resistance to further expansion; the very same Cordish that is welcoming customers to its Maryland Live! casino today, is leading the efforts to stop any further casino development in Maryland.  In fact, resistance by existing casino operators to new casinos is also a growing force, in the air, as it were.

Maybe one could really say that love is in the air; in the air is the love of gambling, the love of additional tax revenues, the love of new jobs, new opportunity and a way out of the recession; the expression of that love is all around us.  Every casino that has opened lately has been an occasion to express that love, politicians, developers and gamblers have gushed with love during the openings.  Politicians of every stripe have been on hand, the governor of the state, the state lawmakers and local officials all turned out to cut ribbons and make speeches.  The casino developers – flanked by big name entertains singing, signing autographs and kissing babies – made warm and welcoming speeches.  In Biloxi, Mississippi the entertainer and the developer were one-in-the-same; Jimmy Buffet was on hand to speak, sing and shake hands when his Margaritaville Casino opened in May. And in every case, would-be gamblers stood in line for hours for the privilege of playing a slot machine.

How could an industry once considered a pariah, a scourge, an evil curse and destroyer of good moral values, one that was relegated to the deserts of Nevada just 40 years ago, reached such an exalted state?   Actually, I do have a theory – it was the tax rate in Nevada; Nevada’s low tax rate stimulated the growth and development of an industry.  The gaming industry today is much more than gambling – slot machines and blackjack tables – it is a resort and entertainment industry.  It is an industry that generates billions of dollars of investment, employs hundreds of thousands of people and yes, pays billions of dollars in tax annually.  And in the process provides activities that the majority of citizens in the country enjoy on occasion.   And now the disclaimer, I have made my living from the gaming industry for the last 40 years, so I might be a bit biased, might I not?

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This is a personal blog and the information in articles posted here represents my personal views. It does not necessarily represent the views of people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with, and is not sponsored or endorsed by them unless stated explicitly. Comments and other public postings are the sole responsibility of their authors, and I shall not take any responsibility and liability for any libel or litigation that results from information written in or as a direct result of information written in a comment. All trademarks, copyrights, and registered names used or cited by this website are the property of their respective owners. I am not responsible for the contents or the reliability of any articles excerpted herein or linked websites and do not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them. I cannot guarantee that these links will work all of the time and have no control over the availability of the linked pages.

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