It might be hard to believe, but it wasn’t that long ago when casino gambling in the United States was confined to Las Vegas, Atlantic City and a few outposts in the south such as Biloxi. Now it might seem like there’s hardly a place throughout the nation where you’re more than a couple hours from a casino. There are still some holdouts, but 30 states now have at least one casino, with plenty more coming soon. Here’s a look at where things stand – and where they may continue to go – in the United States gaming industry as we head into 2014.
Northeast Has Most Growth
By far, the most expansion has been in the northeastern United States, which is becoming competitive to the point of saturation. Late last year, New York voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that will allow for as many as seven Las Vegas-style resort casinos to go into operation over the next decade. That could eventually include one or more casinos located right in New York City, but will start with casinos in several upstate zones. Bids are currently being taken from operators, and the winners will be determined later this year.
New York isn’t the only state in the region that has pushed for casino expansion. In Massachusetts, there are still three casino licenses up for grabs, with word on who will win each license expected to come in April. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania – which has 12 casinos of its own already – will allow bars to add gambling machines this year, with more than 2,500 bars reportedly expected to apply for licenses to do so. And in Maryland, there are already four casinos, with another opening this year and a sixth expected by 2016.
All of this competition has come at the expense of the former center of East Coast gambling, Atlantic City (and to a lesser extent, Pennsylvania, which saw its revenues fall slightly in 2012). The gaming revenues from the 12 Atlantic City casinos fell below $3 billion for the first time in 22 years in 2013, and the Atlantic Club Casino was forced into bankruptcy and closed in the first month of 2014. On the bright side, online gaming was introduced, bringing in an additional $8.4 million in the last five weeks of the year once their Internet betting sites went online.
Newbies Join the Fray
Other states are considering adding casinos for the first time, or opening up their doors to larger results. For instance, Virginia’s House of Assembly is currently considering a bill that will allow for casino gambling at Hampton Roads – which would mark the first casino of any kind in the state. Meanwhile, Florida is eyeing a bill that would allow for privately-operated casino resorts, though that must be balanced against the $1 billion they currently receive annually from the Seminole Tribe, which now operates several venues and pays that amount to maintain the exclusive rights to offer card games in the state.
Ohio is looking at adding to its collection of casinos, too. With gambling revenues slipping slightly, the state is looking forward to the three new casinos that are expected to open there by July 2014.
Finally, some states are looking to improve their current facilities rather than build new ones. For instance, Mississippi’s gambling industry is still recovering a few years after Hurricane Katrina, and hopes to speed that recovery with renovations and new hotels at several of the state’s 36 casino properties.