It seems as if every week there are some moves – for good and for bad – in the world of online casino gaming, online poker and sports betting. Some of the latest news involves three states, with one examining a very limited dip into the pool, one looking for a potential wider expansion and one state’s governor coming out against the activity.
Is the Michigan Plan DOA?
In December, the state of Michigan was one signature away from passing full online casino gaming and poker for its citizens. The Michigan General Assembly had passed, by a wide margin, regulations sponsored by State Representative Brandt Iden (D-Kalamazoo) that would have made the Wolverine State the fifth state to approve such activities. That was all squelched, however, when outgoing Republican Governor Rick Snyder vetoed the legislation, saying that not enough analysis had been given to the revenue effects of enacting the bills.
Fast forward to May and it seems that is still the refrain from the Governor’s Office, despite a change in the name on the door. Iden has been pushing his bills forward once again, but this time it is the new Governor, fellow Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, who is proving to be the roadblock. Spokespeople for the Governor’s Office have stated that the way the current bill is written, it will not add to revenues for the state because it will take away revenues from the state’s lottery sales.
Whitmer was an unknown when she came into the Governor’s Office, but it seems she has made her position known regarding online gaming. Unless it can be shown that it will not carve into the other gaming for the state – its “brick and mortar” operations and its online lottery sales – Whitmer’s stance will be the same and Michiganites will be the ones who won’t be able to partake of any online offerings.
Wider Expansion of Gaming for Illinois?
There are some tepid steps into the online gaming waters for the state of Illinois, but there aren’t many reasons to get hopes up.
Illinois, one of the states with a severe budget shortfall, has been looking for ways to increase revenues in the state. One of the discussions held was the expansion of gaming, including online casinos and poker and sports betting. As with most things in the state, it is the city of Chicago which could make or break the deal.
Chicago pols have wanted a casino in their city for years, but it hasn’t come to pass yet. The former Governor of the state, Republican Bruce Rauner, steadfastly refused to expand gaming in the state beyond the existing casinos, but newly elected Democratic Governor J. B. Pritzker has embraced the potential for sports betting in the state. How much has Pritzker embraced it? He’s put $200 million in revenues in his spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year.
To get that through, however, Pritzker may have to give up a “brick and mortar” casino to Chicago. Other cities, including Waukegan, Rockford and smaller cities in Southern Illinois, have also been clamoring for a physical casino to boost their individual revenues. But the 10 casinos that are already established have seen some of their revenues dwindle due to expanded slot betting in bars and they are saying that they don’t want further competition.
The Illinois General Assembly has until the end of the month to figure out everything. If everyone gets on the same page, could Illinois be the next state to open its doors to online gaming?
Tepid Moves from North Carolina
To the Southeast, the state of North Carolina is inching its way closer to enacting sports betting regulations.
Legislation has been passed out of the North Carolina Senate that would open sports betting for citizens of the Tar Heel State, but that’s where it would stop. The House of Representatives had been entertaining a bill that was set to expire on May 10, but that doesn’t mean that the House won’t embrace the Senate’s bill and move forward with that. The bill, known as S 154, “has the support” of House leadership, but it won’t be as thorough as some might want.
Sports betting in North Carolina under S 154 would be the exclusive right of the Cherokee Indian casinos in the state, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino and Hotel. There would be NO online sports betting and anyone wishing to wager would have to be on site at the casinos to be able to bet. But the chances at millions in revenues for the local casinos, the counties they’re located in and the revenues for the state are appearing to be something than the politicians can’t ignore.
More to Come?
These are but three states that are considering some movement regarding gaming in their states. There could also be significant action in other locales as states look to stay a step ahead of any federal regulations that might be enacted (the expected reinstatement of the Wire Act is due in June, unless there are lawsuits to prevent it). It promises to be an interesting remainder of the year as the states stake out their provinces regarding online gaming, poker and sports betting.