A few predictions on Nevada’s gaming industry for 2018

Dec 26, 2017 5:11 PM

As 2017 comes to a close it’s time to dust off the proverbial “crystal ball,” study the “astrology charts” and consult the “feng shui” guides to boldly make a few predictions on Nevada’s gaming industry for 2018.

Supreme Court Ruling on PASPA: New Jersey finally had its long awaited day in front of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to contest PASPA (the federal law that prohibits wagering on sports in all states save Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana). While this writer has held since its inception that PASPA was unconstitutional, New Jersey has finally been allowed to make its argument.

One of the fundamental principles in our federal structure is accountability; if the Federal Government passes a law, it is up to them to be accountable for the law and they cannot dump their responsibilities on the states. PASPA effectively discriminates against states if those states did not permit sports betting prior to PASPA and thereby backhandedly forces the states to enforce a federal law.

While the law is easily fixed at the federal level, with the law as is SCOTUS should deem it unconstitutional and let the real fight begin between those states that want sports betting and the leagues that will want it barred or controlled such they get a piece of the action.

Prediction: SCOTUS rules to strike PASPA; Leagues appeal to Congress; Congress takes too long and 20 plus states adopt some form of sports wagering before Congress takes action; several Nevada sportsbooks become nationwide hubs and sports betting information services massively benefit from the increased consumer demand for information.

Online Betting in Nevada: Currently online wagering in Nevada is limited to poker and race and sportsbook betting. But for reasons incomprehensible to this writer, Nevada has yet to shut down betting sites that allow Nevada residents under and over 21 to bet on supposedly skill-based games.

Though Nevada law and regulations are written such that legal online wagering on bingo, craps, “21”, baccarat, slots, etc. can be easily activated, concerns over the potentially erosive effect it could have on live casinos has blocked its activation. Now that statistics from other jurisdictions are suggesting no negative impact on traditional casino style wagering it may be time to revisit online gaming in Nevada.

Prediction: The governor either on his own or based on a request from certain gaming licensees will in the Spring or Summer encourage the Nevada Gaming Commission to start the permitting and expansion of online gaming in Nevada. Licensees already in the business or who are offering free-to-play versions of online casino style gaming will quickly seize the opportunity.

When is a game a slot machine and when is it not? Generally, a slot machine is an electro/mechanical/computing device that offers a game wherein the results are yet unknown. Once a wager is made the result is determined randomly at the device level and the party making the wager wins a predefined amount based on the results or loses their wager.

With the expansion of skill based games, virtual reality, eSports and a combination thereof, when is a game deemed a slot game or not a slot game? For example, Nevada allows a sportsbook to offer wagers on games like virtual horse racing, car racing or other events as if they are live sporting events, yet the results are determined by random number generators just like a slot machine.

Prediction: As virtual, eSport and skill-based games grow in popularity and the desire to play across state lines among larger player pools increases, with those games supplanting traditional slot machines, regulators will need to re-visit their definition of what is and is not a slot machine to assure not only proper tax collection but who can play them.

Generation Z: The gaming industry is still struggling to find the right mix of games and events to offer the Millennial Generation, but “time waits for no one” and before the millennials are mastered, Generation Z is starting to become of legal gambling and drinking age.

Generation Z is that segment of the population generally born in the mid-90s or later and has even more distinctive behavior patterns than the millennials, plus there are lots more of them.

Prediction: The smartest gaming operators and game manufacturers will start committing resources in 2018 to the Generation Z demographic, particularly as the millennials are more likely to emulate the Generation Z demographic than the other way around.

There are many other areas that are prediction worthy, such as: which gaming companies might merge; what will happen in Japan; when will Venmo and PayPal start being accepted in casinos like cash. Each of those topics is worth a full article. Those and others will be subject of future articles in 2018.

Thank you for your readership in 2017 and best of luck to everyone in 2018!