Assessing the Impact

Impact is one of my favorite typefaces – because it delivers on its promise – it has an instant impact on the reader.  But Impact is fast becoming much more than a typeface for me.  Impact is becoming the dominant theme in the national gaming narrative.  Like the typeface, the impact theme demands attention; however, it is not one of my favorite themes.  Take Ohio for example. Even as new casinos and racinos opened, the major story became the impact of each new casino or racino on older existing ones.  During all of 2013, the impact of Ohio casinos on each other and on casinos in Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania was the major theme in stories about Ohio casinos.  In 2014, the Ohio story is not going to get as much attention.  It will get less attention not because the impact on surrounding states is less, but because the story has become old hat and boring. 

The impact theme, however, will still be in the news because gaming will continue to expand.  And because it will continue to expand the new gaming options will continue to impact existing casinos.  Expansion is like the Energizer Bunny, it never seems to stop.  We will all spend 2014 watching New York and Massachusetts move closer to casino gaming.  Both states want casinos to add to tax coffers and to keep gambling dollars at home.   Both have lamented the fact that their citizens wander across state lines to fulfill an urge to make a wager and the state gets no benefit from the gambling urge.  Neither state will actually have casinos actually operating in 2014, so it will be at least another year before we begin to discuss the impact of the casinos in New York and Massachusetts on other casinos.

Casinos in New York and Massachusetts may be a year or more away, but they are already creating some distress. The lottery and Indian casinos in New York are making changes now in preparation for those casinos. The New York Lottery is hiring a UK firm to enhance its sales and the Indian tribes in New York are investing millions of dollars in their casinos to make them more competitive.   But they are not alone; Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Connecticut are also preparing for those casinos. All three states are exploring additional forms of gaming and the casinos in Connecticut are attempting to streamline their operations and make them more fit to compete.

 Rhode Island is once again facing a string of potential deficits, initially projected at $149.2 million next year, $215.3 million the following year and $325 million the year after that.  These projections are based on many assumptions, including the potential loss when casinos open across the border in Massachusetts and siphon a projected $90 million to $150 million in gambling dollars away from Rhode Island. Katherine Gregg, Philip Marcelo/ Randal Edgar, Providence Journal, 1-23-14

With Massachusetts casinos on the doorstep, New Hampshire lawmakers face a jousting match between advocates for expanded gaming and those who believe it would not be worth the harm it could cause.  Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, will once again roll out a proposal to the Senate Ways and Means Committee.  Garry Rayno, New Hampshire Union Leader, 1-26-14

Unionized table-games dealers at Foxwoods Resort Casino have been informed that management is eliminating 125 positions due to poor business.  The layoffs are effective March 1.  “Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation are forced to make difficult decisions in the wake of increased competition, a historically difficult economic environment, and the overall suppressed gaming market,” Foxwoods said in a notice to members of Local 2121 of the United Auto Workers. New London Day, 1-23-14

It is only January; there will be many more stories along the same lines before next December arrives.  In 2014, the two-handed impact theme will continue.  On one hand, states will bemoan the loss of gaming revenues and taxes to neighboring states; Connecticut, New Jersey, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are experiencing declines in gaming revenues. And on the other hand states will continue to expand in a search for more revenue; Illinois, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine, New Jersey, Michigan and Florida are currently considering expanding gaming. 

The impact theme is one without a foreseeable conclusion.  I see no end to the expansion until there is no jurisdiction without gaming or any form of gaming which has not been legalized.  And I see no end of the disastrous impact on one jurisdiction or form of gaming when another jurisdiction or form of gaming expands.


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January 2014
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