Sports Betting, Casinos Win Big in Votes Across the Country

Posted on: November 5, 2020, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: November 5, 2020, 02:04h.

The gaming industry drew a winning hand nationwide this week, with overwhelming votes in six states for legal sports betting or casinos.

Sports betting
Customers watch baseball and jubilant fans on big screens in a sportsbook. Voters in six states on Election Day approved sports betting or casinos. (Image: Colorado Public Radio)

Voters this year approved sports betting in Maryland, Louisiana, and South Dakota. Casino expansion won in Virginia, Nebraska, and Colorado.

Election Day support for legal gaming indicates more people are accepting an industry that some have viewed negatively, experts said.

“It appears that Americans are becoming increasingly comfortable with legalized gambling,” casino historian David Schwartz told the Associated Press.

Jim Cramer, host of CNBC’s Mad Money, said states see an upside in the tax money from enterprises such as sports betting.

“A lot of states want that tax revenue,” Cramer said Wednesday on the show. “Right now it’s going to bookies.

Expansion Nationwide

The vote in Louisiana allows sports betting in the 55 parishes where residents backed the initiative. The measure failed in nine mostly north-central parishes. Before sports betting can take place, legislators must set up a tax structure and regulations. That is expected to happen next year.

In Maryland, the sport-betting ballot item received more than 66 percent of the vote. This outcome paves the way for lawmakers to approve legislation to tax and regulate the industry.

The vote in South Dakota allows the historic town of Deadwood and the state’s 11 tribal casinos to offer sports betting.

Cramer said on Mad Money that sports betting is “taking the country by storm.”

Sports betting has gone mainstream,” he said.

The Election Day results were a “huge victory” for the industry, with “market-moving implications,” he said.

Cramer noted that DraftKings, Penn National Gaming, and MGM Resorts are in position to benefit from the recent spread of sports betting.

“They’re the ones with the best chance to profit from these new states,” he said.

Legal sports wagering is operational in 19 states and the District of Columbia. This number will increase to 22 when Maryland, Louisiana, and South Dakota begin accepting bets. Sports betting has been approved in Virginia, North Carolina, and Washington, but is not yet up and running.

Also on Tuesday, Virginians approved casino gambling in four cities. Nebraska voters agreed to add casino games at six horse tracks. Voters in Colorado decided to eliminate $100 wagering limits at the casinos in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek. The Colorado vote also will add games such as baccarat and keno at casinos.

“The addition of casinos in Virginia and racetrack casinos in Nebraska indicates that casino-style gambling is on the upswing, as well,” Schwartz said.

Tourism Slowdown

As gaming expands nationwide, Las Vegas has grappled with a tourism slump since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March.

One major resort on the Las Vegas Strip, Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays because of low consumer demand. This includes the gaming areas and hotel.

Another hotel-casino on the Strip, Park MGM, has announced it is closing just the hotel portion of its property during the middle of the week. This closure, also prompted by low midweek demand, is expected to last into December.

Schwartz told the midweek slowdown is the result in part of a falloff in conventions. He said tourism should pick back up when the pandemic is under control and people feel comfortable traveling again.