The biggest story in pop culture for 2023 is Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour and her continued rise as one of the most prolific artists in human history. While the icon has yet to appear in any marketing for gambling companies in the United States, there are some parallels to her year that apply to the US gambling industry in 2023.
For example, people trying to get concert tickets on Ticketmaster’s website in 2023 probably felt like it was all a matter of luck. In the same way, some of the best Taylor Swift memes from 2023 can tell the story of the biggest US gambling headlines from the year.
As much as Swift’s career seems on track to continue to escalate in 2024, the year has some promise for the gaming industry in the US as well. For now, what 2024 will bring for the gambling industry in the US is a “Blank Space.” The year could bring their “Wildest Dreams” but disappointment might be something that some will know “All Too Well.”
Expanded gaming, including sports betting, returns to Florida
Like the relationship that has taken pop culture by storm, the relationship between Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida heated up in 2023. As the meme suggests, though, it just made Florida more like other states with various legal gambling options.
The “Bad Blood” between West Flagler Associates and the state of Florida remains, but in 2023, the Seminole Tribe of Florida was able to “Shake It Off.” In November, multiple Seminole casinos in Florida added new table games and began accepting in-person wagers on sporting events from guests.
Furthermore, the Hard Rock Bets app resumed taking online sports bets across Florida that same month. That gaming had been suspended because of legal challenges from West Flagler in federal courts. Barring a successful appeal at the United States Supreme Court, however, that blocking action is essentially spent.
Regardless, expanded gaming in Florida under the terms of a 2021 compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe is not completely “Out of the Woods” just yet. West Flagler still has a pending challenge to the compact’s legality before the Florida Supreme Court.
In 2024, the Florida and US supreme courts should both have their say on this matter. At this point, the set of circumstances that could invalidate the amended compact are few. Now, it looks like this version of expanded gaming is here to stay in Florida.
Another populous state’s government wasn’t quite so “Enchanted” with gaming expansion in 2023. However, at least one faction of this state’s government answered in the affirmative to whether it was “Ready For It?”
Texas weighs gaming expansion again
Legal gambling expansion in Texas remains a “Delicate” situation. Half of the state’s legislature composed a “Love Story” in that regard in 2023, however. The Texas House of Representatives approved a constitutional amendment proposal that would have put the question of legalizing sports betting in Texas to voters.
At that point, depending on your perspective, the Texas Senate played the role of the “Anti-Hero.” Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick continued in what some might call his villain era by stating a position that the votes were not there to pass the proposal in the Texas Senate.
There is no reason to expect any action on this front in 2024 as the Texas legislature only meets in odd-numbered years. The same goes for expansion in another of the behemoth states for the gambling industry, California.
While some tribal authorities are trying to put forward a ballot measure that would expand gaming in California in 2024, it does not enjoy broad support from such bodies across the state. Thus, even if the measure does qualify for the ballot in 2024, ratification seems unlikely.
Even though 2024 might seem a dud for expansion in California and Texas, another state established itself as “the 1” for similar expansion in 2023.
Rhode Island rescues 2023 for online casino legislation
For many people when it comes to Rhode Island, “I Forgot That You Existed” might be an accurate statement. When it came to legalizing real-money online casino play in 2023, however, Rhode Island ensured that it can say, “Don’t Blame Me.”
As this meme lays out, Rhode Island’s announcement of forthcoming legal online casino play was quite a surprise for those who were not privy to insider conversations. For those who were able to read the tea leaves in Providence, though, it made sense.
Rhode Island was the sole state to legalize online slots and table game play in 2023. That bested efforts in more populous states like Illinois, Indiana, and New York. It looks like a similar story could play out in 2024.
Indiana’s legislature will probably not take up the matter in 2024. Additionally, support is still insufficient for the same in Illinois and Iowa. However, there could be one serious contender to at least move the issue forward in 2024; Maryland.
Gaming regulators in the state have shared a study on the impacts of legalizing online casino play. In addition, legislation already exists in Annapolis to that end. However, the passage of a potential constitutional amendment is uncertain. Overall, online casino legalization in 2024 looks like a “Picture to Burn.”
Expansion came easier when it was limited to sports betting only in 2023. “Karma” might bring some regression on that front in 2024, though.
Three states expand regulated sports betting in 2023
The map for regulated sports betting continued to fill out in 2023, even if it wasn’t in the most attractive places. During the course of the year, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Vermont altered their laws around that gambling vertical.
As a result, these states either have or are preparing to receive new tax revenues on par with the cost of an Eras Tour ticket in 2023.
Kentucky not only legalized sports wagering but also launched its regulated sportsbooks in time for the current NFL season. Meanwhile, Vermont’s new legal online sportsbooks are set to launch in mid-January 2024.
North Carolina expanded its legal sports betting options to include online wagering. Previously, the only way to legally bet on sports was in person at one of the three tribal casinos within the state’s borders. Online sportsbooks could start taking bets there as soon as March 2024.
In related news, Maine got its legal sportsbooks off the ground in November. For 2024, the map is thinning out. While Delaware and Mississippi have both received legislative reports favorable to sports betting expansion, it’s unclear whether those legislatures will approve such changes in 2024.
Other than that, the only other serious contender seems to be Georgia. Meetings with advocates have happened and bills are ready for the 2024 legislative session. However, Georgia leads the nation in failed votes along these lines.
While it’s possible that voters in Georgia and Maryland could be deciding the fate of gaming expansion with the ballot in 2024, there is a decision in another state looming large for 2024. The money at stake in this matter would put many companies in the “Red.”
New York accelerates timeline for downstate casino licenses
While New York’s legislature didn’t approve online casino play in 2023, it did move on gambling expansion in another way. The licensing process for three downstate brick-and-mortar casinos got a bump and is happening more “Swift-ly” than the law originally allowed for.
The competitive process for those licenses is fierce and should prove quite costly. Two slot parlors in southern New York are strong favorites to receive a license each, leaving just one license between several other high-profile bidders.
The stakes couldn’t be higher and the final cost to secure the opportunity could be multiple billions of dollars. The chance to put a casino in or near New York City is irreplaceable for any gaming company. It’s unclear exactly when the moving parts will come together.
The process involves both the New York State Gaming Commission and a separate Gaming Facility Location Board. The former will evaluate whether bidders qualify for a casino license while the latter will determine whether a bid’s proposed site meets numerous state requirements.
Decisions from those bodies should come sometime in 2024. However, it’s possible that might not be the end of the competition. Some of the bidders left on the outside looking in might decide the decision-makers were just being “Mean.” Lawsuits challenging the selections seem inevitable given the stakes.
Regardless of what 2024 holds for the gambling industry in the US, its players are heading into the year “Fearless.” While some might look back on the year and say, “I Did Something Bad,” there’s no “Getaway Car” for the march of time. Even Swift herself will get older in 2024.