One of the stated reasons for this optimism is the belief that the legalization of online gambling in Pennsylvania will have a ripple effect.
One specific way Pennsylvania could spur on legislative action is the growing presence some of the online casino operators in New Jersey and future operators in Pennsylvania have in some of the candidate states.
In this column, Play USA will take a look at five candidate states where current land-based operators could increase their lobbying efforts in favor of online gambling legislation.
The land-based operators with a stake in the game
MGM is currently active in New Jersey. Many expect the company to be a part of Pennsylvania’s online gaming market too. MGM operates casino properties in three of the five candidate states.
Penn National is expected to be involved in Pennsylvania online gaming. The company also operates casino properties in three of the five candidate states.
Caesars is already active in New Jersey and Nevada. It will almost certainly launch a Pennsylvania online gaming site through its Harrah’s Philadelphia property. Additionally, it operates casino properties in two of the five candidate states.
Rush Street is active in New Jersey. It is a lock to get involved in Pennsylvania where it operates two casinos, Rivers and SugarHouse. The company operates casino properties in two of the five candidate states.
Tropicana has an online casino in New Jersey, so it might have some interest in becoming a skin of a licensed operator the Pennsylvania market. However, Tropicana operates a casino in just one of the five candidate states.
Here’s a look at each operators presence in the five candidate states, and how their lobbying efforts might impact legislative efforts.
Massachusetts has three casino operators, two of which are from our protagonist list above:
- Penn National
Penn National operates the Plainridge Park Casino in Plainville, Massachusetts. The racino opened in June 2015.
MGM Springfield is slated to open in September 2018.
MGM and Penn National are active or likely to be active in at least one state with online gambling, and both have been vocal advocates of online gambling.
Working against their efforts will be the third casino operator, Wynn.
Refuting earlier reports, a Wynn spokesperson said Wynn Resorts’ online gambling position has not changed in a statement to Online Poker Report in March 2017.
“Among other concerns, we continued to believe that online gambling is unable to effectively identify and authenticate the end user, creating a risk of underage gambling. We still maintain our position on this matter, as communicated by Mr. Wynn over the last several years.”
In February 2017, Rush Street opened a new casino in Schenectady, New York.
Rivers Casino Schenectady was one of four newly authorized casinos in New York to open its doors in the last year, joining the state’s existing commercial racinos and tribal casinos.
How much sway Rush Street will have in New York is unclear. New York has a disparate gaming industry comprised of racing, tribal gaming, commercial casinos and the state lottery, all with different interests and goals.
That said, with the state already on the precipice of legalizing online poker, Rush Street could be the subtle nudge needed to get the Empire State across the finish line.
Michigan is another state giving online gambling a serious look.
MGM owns and operates MGM Detroit casino, one of three commercial casinos in the state. MGM is the only national/international gaming operation in the state, so how influential it can be will largely depend on the amount of resources it wants to devote to Michigan.
The state legislature could be lobbied by no less than four casino corporations when it revisits IL online gaming in 2018.
Rush Street operates Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Illinois.
MGM operates Grand Victoria in Elgin, Illinois in conjunction with Hyatt Hotels.
Penn National operates three Illinois gaming establishments:
- Argosy Casino in Alton, Illinois
- Hollywood Casino in Aurora, Illinois
- Hollywood Casino in Joliet, Illinois
Caesars also operates three Illinois gaming properties:
- Harrah’s Joliet
- Harrah’s Metropolis
- Horseshoe Hammond
If all four of these companies can get on the same page they could present a strong, unified front capable of convincing the legislature that online gaming should be on its agenda.
Like Illinois, Indiana has three land-based casino operators who are advocates for online gaming.
Caesars owns Horseshoe Southern Indiana. Additionally, the company recently completed an acquisition of Centaur Holdings to increase its presence in the state. Centaur owns and operates Anderson, Indiana’s Hoosier Park Racing and Casino and Shelbyville, Indiana’s Indiana Grand Racing and Casino.
Penn National owns Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg, Indiana.
Tropicana also has a presence in Indiana, Tropicana Evansville Casino.
Of all the states on this list, Indiana seems like the biggest long shot (the state has never introduced an online gambling bill), but as we’ve seen in previous years, online gaming candidates can come out of nowhere.