The 2012 Election Cycle has come and gone: some are happy, some are disappointed. World casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, a heavy supporter of the Republican party, was hoping for a Romney victory. He invested well over $100 million of his own money in the campaign. His impetus was both personal and professional. He felt Obama had slighted Las Vegas by not addressing Nevada’s economic circumstances more closely, and was offended that he only came through the state to raise money and not actually help some 200,000 casino and hospitality workers see a brighter future.
Though Adelson and his team lost last night, his point will not be falling on deaf ears. The Nevada economy has been one of the hardest hit in the nation, and recovery has been slow. Business and political leaders are looking for ways to increase state revenues. We saw a ballot initiative for legalizing recreational marijuana use pass in neighboring Colorado. Would a push to legalize online gambling ever make it to the voting booth?
If it ever did, Nevada and New Jersey would be the two most likely states. Both have been at the forefront of legalizing “new” forms of gambling in the United States, and both have already shown interest in getting some form of online gambling legalized. Nevada has already legalized online poker and handed out more than 3 dozen licenses to major casino conglomerates, domestic and foreign. Legal online gambling is a no-brainer for these troubled states, who desperately need to rev up the gaming sector to revive their stalled economies.
As for other states in the union, a ballot initiative might indeed decide legalized online gambling. Traditionally, rights to erect brick and mortar casinos, race tracks, and bingo halls has always been decided in the legislative and executive branches of government, with voters’ direct consent only being requested in a handful of instances. In states where online gambling would be controversial – particularly Republican strongholds like the South and some moderate Democratic states in the North East – the people might be the ultimate deciders.
At the moment, many proponents of legalized online gambling are hoping it will happen at the Federal level, ushering in a new age of gaming across the nation.
Until then, things will only happen state-by-state.