Why Is Nevada So Content To Be Left Behind On Online Gambling?
For decades, Nevada has been the gold standard for all things American gambling. The magnificent Las Vegas Strip has outshined all other competition.
Atlantic City, tribal casinos and gambling destinations across the country cannot match the Vegas experience. How did Las Vegas get that way? By always staying one step ahead of the pack and never being afraid to go big.
But lately, that spirit of innovation is sorely lacking, especially in the Nevada Gaming Commission’s stubborn refusal to get with the times for mobile sports betting registration and iGaming.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis has laid these shortcomings bare. While New Jersey and Pennsylvania were able to continue generating revenue from online sports betting and iGaming, Nevada’s April gaming revenue report was largely redacted due to lack of activity. In other words, it was an embarrassingly bad month.
Perhaps at no point has Nevada’s intransigence been more obvious than the bizarre spectacle of casinos offering drive-thru sports betting registration. They did so because Nevada has inexplicably required customers to register in-person for access to an online sports betting account.
Nevada’s consumers were forced to leave the safety of their own homes in order to complete an unnecessary process which exposes them to public spaces during a pandemic. While 11 other states (and many foreign jurisdictions) have allowed customers to safely and conveniently register and fund online accounts without physically visiting a sportsbook, Nevada remains stuck in a protectionist, brick-and-mortar mindset.
American consumers have transacted online for decades in all manner of sensitive financial and investment products which routinely involves moving significantly larger sums than a friendly bet on the local team. Why does a recreational consumer product require more oversight than an enterprise grade financial product? Furthermore, there is no excuse to leave sports betting dollars on the table during a time when the state’s largest industry faces profound economic struggles.
Similarly, Nevada has dragged its feet on authorizing iGaming for far too long, even as other states have seen strong revenue from online gambling. Sure, most people don’t come to Las Vegas to play casino games on their phone, but why not make this available as an added amenity for people who would rather sit poolside or keep a safe distance from other patrons?
Now more than ever, iGaming is going to be relevant as casino floors operate with limited capacity for the foreseeable future. The Nevada Gaming Commission demonstrated real leadership when it was originally constituted to drive organized crime out of Las Vegas. Why not try to maintain form and demonstrate leadership in an area that is clearly the future of gaming?
IGaming won’t ever replace the excitement and feel of the casino floor, but that’s not its purpose. It’s not a competing product, but just another way for people to put their discretionary spending to use and enjoy themselves. If that isn’t a Vegas principle, I don’t know what is.
Nevada, like the rest of the country, has never experienced such a challenging time. I sincerely hope that the tourism industry comes back stronger than ever, and that the ambitious mindset that made Las Vegas great is on full display. But it’s clear that a change is needed.
Nobody knows what the next crisis will be, but failing to adopt modern standards will leave Nevada susceptible and at a disadvantage to other aggressive competitors. It’s time for Nevada to embrace a more modern game plan and show why it deserves to remain the leader in American gaming regulation.
Charles Gillespie is chief executive of the Gambling.com Group and an American entrepreneur and leader in online gaming. He contributes regularly to business, regional and industry media and his recent editorials advocating for regulated online gaming have been published in The Baltimore Sun, Boston Herald, Charlotte Observer, Tennessean, Clarion-Ledger and Everett-Herald.
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