Online casinos and poker could be a windfall waiting in the wings

Online casinos and poker could be a windfall waiting in the wings
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In West Virginia, one of eight states that allow both online sports betting and internet gambling (including poker), Shawn Fluharty, a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, told the Associated Press that online gambling rakes in three times more than sports betting.

The potential windfall of broader online casino and poker adoption is huge, said Howard Glaser, the global head of government affairs at gaming company Light & Wonder. In 2022, the net income for retail and mobile sports betting in over 30 states was about $6.4 billion, but with just six states, iGaming has generated over $5 billion, Glaser reported.

Still, it's not a safe bet to assume that state legislation permitting online casinos and online poker will follow in the wake of the rapid online sports betting laws. Online casinos and poker adoption have been more cautious and closer to the average pace of lawmaking.

In 2023, online casinos have the green light in only six states—New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Rhode Island has quietly passed laws and has plans to roll out its online casinos by March 2024. Nevada, the first state to legalize iGaming in 2001, limits online gambling to just poker games after a push by brick-and-mortar casinos to protect their market of local players.

Some brick-and-mortar casinos, bars, and video gaming terminal companies that offer slot games have voiced concerns that legalizing online and mobile gaming could cause fewer people to visit physical locations, impacting revenue and jobs. However, data from Atlantic City, New Jersey, reported by the Associated Press, shows that since online gambling became legal, both virtual and physical operators saw an increase in revenue.

Change seems to be in the cards.

An analysis of 2022 data by iGB shows the industry is a prime opportunity for states to cash in, like Illinois, which has a lot of state debt compared with the value of the goods and services it produces.

The conversation doesn't need to pit physical casinos against online ones, according to Michael Pollock of the Spectrum Gaming Group. He told iGB: "What we urged legislators to do is look at the bigger picture because if iGaming is coordinated with the land-based casino industry, it becomes a demographic opportunity to reach new customers and get them to visit your property."

Story editing by Carren Jao. Copy editing by Kristen Wegrzyn.

This story originally appeared on The Game Day Casino and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.