In 2013, Nevada became the first state to allow online sports betting and poker. But the state’s extremely powerful casino owners oppose legalizing online casinos, at least historically speaking. The reason is simple enough: more people playing online casino games means fewer people in the brick-and-mortar casinos.
But Bill Hornbuckle, CEO of MGM Resorts International, Nevada’s largest casino operator, sees things differently.
“It could be significant not only for the state, but for the industry and nationally, and potentially even on a global basis,” he said.
MGM Resorts owns BetMGM, which offers online casino gaming in all five states to legalize it. While it won’t be in Connecticut, a state set to launch online casinos later this week, BetMGM is among the country’s highest-earning casino apps.
So, when Bill Hornbuckle says that online casino gaming “has not taken from our brick-and-mortar business,” it’s safe to say that the uncertainty around legalization in Nevada may be misplaced.
Will Other Nevada Casino Owners Get On Board?
Some of the most influential voices in Las Vegas have been aggressive opponents of online casinos in Nevada. In fact, Sheldon Adelson, owner of Las Vegas Sands and major political donor, opposed all forms of online gambling. That included online sports betting and poker legalization in 2013.
But Sheldon Adelson passed away on January 11, 2021, and the company’s new Chairman and CEO, Robert Goldstein, mentioned the possibility of online gambling on January 26, 2021, just 15 days later. The winds almost immediately changed direction.
More recently, DraftKings announced a 90,000-square-foot space in Las Vegas. The facility will open in early 2022 and feature “its own casino pit, high-tech putting green, and more, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Few (if any) companies have been more aggressively involved in online gambling expansion than DraftKings. While it does not have an online betting license in Nevada, that will likely change in the very near future.
How Does Nevada Online Betting Compare To Other States?
While Nevada has online sports betting, you have to register in-person at a retail sportsbook. Illinois is the only other state with online sports betting that has that requirement. But that requirement will expire in the Illinois sports betting market once regulators approve an online-only sportsbook (one not tied to a land-based casino). Once that happens, Nevada will be the only state of around 20 that makes you register in person.
However, Nevada is also one of the few states with legal online poker. It also shares player pools with New Jersey and Delaware through the All American Poker Network, which includes members of WSOP.com and 888 US.
All in all, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Michigan offer several online casinos, sports betting apps, and poker platforms. Meanwhile, Nevada has one online poker network, zero online casinos, and requires in-person registration for sports betting. That puts them squarely behind the pack.
But this state is world-renowned for offering some of the best gaming on the planet. So if it reconsidered its online betting restrictions, it likely wouldn’t take long to catch up to New Jersey, which currently enjoys the biggest online betting market in the US.