The Week Casinos Stood Still, AGA Asks for Additional Federal Help, and Other Business Headlines
Not much happened this past week in the United States. Casinos are under a complete shut-down occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic and this is unlikely to change any time soon. Governor. Steve Sisolak of Nevada has confirmed that casinos will remain closed until health experts deemed a reversal of the measure permissible.
Economic need won’t be leading in this case, Gov. Sisolak cautioned with workers growing concerned about their livelihoods. In the meantime, the American Gaming Association (AGA) addressed the Paycheck Protection Program, calling the slight changes to the minutiae progress but not enough to quite enough to make up for the significant impact suffered by the American gambling industry, casinos and sportsbooks in particular.
American Gaming Association (AGA) Calls for More Solidarity with the Casino Sector
AGA CEO Bill Miller has become one of the key opponents against a proposed Paycheck Protection Program, part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, seeking to relief businesses severely affected by the COVID-19 economic lockdown.
Miller was not against the need for a financial relief, but rather the phrasing the PPP had used to describe under what conditions companies would be allowed to apply for the $349 billion earmarked in business loans.
Last week, the PPP program fully excluded businesses that generated over one third of their revenue from gambling-related activities. Even the revised text of the law isn’t enough, however.
The new conditions state that a business which generated less than $1 million in revenue from gaming in 2019 would be eligible for the measure. Another condition is that the sought help cannot exceed 50% of the revenue for 2019, which renders the measure largely unsatisfactory.
AGA continued to describe the enacted policies as “woefully short” of what the industry needed to weather the storm. With COVID-19 continuing to spread and claim new victims, a return to normality in Las Vegas and other casinos around the United States is not expected any time soon.
New Jersey’s Online Casino Gaming Grows
Sports betting revenue across the United States has been falling rapidly, with regulators posting close to zero in terms of total handle and revenue.
Yet, one sector that has soared has been iGaming or online casino game, and particularly in states such as New Jersey, one of the few to have adapted its casinos for online gambling.
The NJ gaming market took on new dimensions with revenue from iGaming hitting a decent $64.8 million in March or a whopping 65.6% increase year-over-year. Interestingly, poker was the most popular activity, with the revenue there growing up by 90.6%.
The Golden Nugget was the uncontested leader in the New Jersey market last month, claiming the majority of the revenue at – $23.3 million. Resorts Digital was second with a fair share of its own and $13.5 million of revenue.
Borgata brought up the rear with another $12.2 million in March, all of which reveals the immense potential of online gambling and could be an incentive for other states to hurry up and adopt iGaming.
With the coronavirus pandemic out there, major regulatory push for online casinos is not very likely.
Nevada Says Yes to Electronic Sports Betting
A little out of our traditional scope, it’s still interesting to see how Nevada is dealing with the massive casino closure that has bitten deep into the economy of the state. Yet, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) has approved a number of electronic sports events that can be bet on in the state.
These events include various competitions in “disciplines” such as Overwatch, League of Legends and just as of Friday, April 17, Call of Duty. Each of these games has millions of followers around the globe.
League of Legends was watched by 100 million concurrent viewers back in 2019 during the game’s “World Cup” finals, making for one of the most entertaining esports there is. Previously, the regulator also approved betting on eNASCAR, Dota 2 and Counter-Strike.
Nevada is the first US state to have officially allowed esports betting.
PA Gambling Revenue Cut in Half due to COVID-19 Shutdowns
Pennsylvania has been another leader in iGaming and sports betting innovating the market experience to the point where you can bet on sports, play poker and “go” to online casinos. The state regulator, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) reported that revenue had collapsed two-fold for March, however. The exact drop amounted to 49.6% with the total amount worth $304.3 million.
Understandably sports betting has been eliminated from the results, with the bulk of revenue brought in by online casino gaming specifically. Land-based casinos all had to shut down on March 17, occasioning a quick and significant slump for the industry.
Pennsylvania is unlikely to return back to normality in the coming months, until at least the end of May.
Calls to Legalize Online Gambling in the US Continue
Despite the unfortunate timing, groups have been calling for the legalization of online casino gaming in the United States.
The Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (SCCOG) has requested that governor Ned Lamont legalize online gambling, but the governor was reluctant to act.
Mohegan Sun and Mashantucket Pequot tribes have been calling from a pro-active approach from the governor, but he has explained that it was a matter of important legislative processes that can’t be decided overnight.
This has admittedly put the tribes and the governor at loggerheads, leading to further consternation between proponents and opponents of online casino gaming. Presently, online casinos can operate only in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, although mobile betting is increasingly popular.
In fact, Colorado is on its way to legalize sports betting now with the activity due to start on May 1. Colorado will allow mobile sports betting from the get go.