Nevada has recently started discussing the possibility of allowing online gaming to come to the state, and it was only a matter of time before opposition on the part of casinos began to surface. That has reportedly now happened. The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) and the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) receiving a letter from a conglomerate of businesses in the state, voicing their opposition to the idea. The initiative is apparently being backed, in part by Red Rock Resorts, the same casino operator that has continuously shown not to be willing to abide by federal and state employment laws.
Nevada Casinos Push Back On iGaming Rumors
It has been estimated that the US iGaming industry could be worth as much as $15 billion within four years; $30 billion within the next ten. That is a big incentive for wanting to get in on the space and Nevada is going to explore the possibility, as well. As was to be expected, the idea isn’t being met with a lot of enthusiasm from many casino operators and other businesses, fearful of losing their market share and unable to adapt to the changing times.
The NGCB and the NGC received a four-page letter last week from 30 small casino owners and businesses that are trying to convince the gaming regulators to scratch the idea. The letter was reportedly sent through the corporate offices of Red Rock Resorts, the casino operator that has shown more than once that it doesn’t believe in following federal employment policies. The CEO of the company, Frank Fertitta III, and Vice Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta both signed the letter, as did Meruelo Gaming CEO Alex Meruelo and VP of Government Affairs Andrew Diss.
The letter provides some justifiable concerns about the introduction of iGaming, but also some far-fetched excuses for why it shouldn’t be allowed. Concern that iGaming may reduce the value of investments made in casinos carries some weight, but the idea that it will weaken public policy is without merit. The letter adds, “We strongly oppose any expansion of online gaming in Nevada. In your potential consideration of online gaming, we ask that you are deliberate in determining if online gaming is needed to grow Nevada’s economy, helpful to our local communities and consistent with our long-established regulatory framework.”
COVID-19 Forcing Changes in the Gaming Industry
COVID-19 revealed that online gaming is a resilient, and almost necessary, alternative to land-based casinos. Now that the coronavirus is making a comeback and some casinos are reinstituting health restrictions, there is growing concern that gaming revenue is going to take a hit once again. Nevada is ready to explore the possibility of introducing an iGaming segment, but friction is going to keep the concept from moving forward smoothly.
The NGCB was to begin discussing the pros and cons of launching an iGaming market this past May, but had to put its plans on hold because of a break in the schedule. It hasn’t yet resumed the conversation, but the arrival of the Delta variant of COVID-19 is certain to provide a sense of urgency to the subject. Nevada recorded its lowest gaming revenue in 24 years last year because of the pandemic, and the idea that another shutdown might be lurking isn’t a pleasant feeling.
The larger, more established casino operators, including MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment and others, have already embraced the future and have started to launch iGaming operations in other states. The introduction of online gaming is not merely a fleeting idea that will pass; it is an inevitability that all casino operators must recognize and prepare for. As Andrew Carnegie once said, “The first one gets the oyster, the second gets the shell.