The road to ICE 2024: Casino and gaming

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It’s been a big year for the casino and gaming sector, with plenty of talking points for ICE 2024. Here we delve into some of the biggest US news of the year.

Tribal battles over casino and gaming

This year proved to be a big fight for sovereignty for tribal nations in the United States (US).

Arguably, tribal nations in the US have dodged a bullet so far when it comes to attacks on their sovereignty. As a result, they should feel buoyed by recent court rulings. 

However, with state governments wanting to take more control over Indian country and ongoing fears about the courts, the concerns aren’t going away for tribal casino and gaming.

TRIBAL BATTLES OVER COMMERCIAL GAMING INTERESTS REMAIN A BIG TOPIC

This certainly comes with tribal gaming in excellent health. The National Indian Gaming Commission’s annual report shows revenues in 2022 rose 4.9% to $40. That $1.9bn year-on-year gain is the highest ever recorded.

However, despite that success, tribal leaders remain on edge as politicians and some commercial gaming interests look to cut into that share. This can happen through either the courts or state governments.

Florida’s Seminole tribe – a big win

A major casino and gaming win has also taken place in Florida. The Seminole tribe and the State of Florida have agreed on statewide mobile sports wagering, effectively creating a tribal monopoly.

Florida certainly has been one of the standout stories from this year. This is after a lengthy legal battle which finally saw the US Supreme Court denying West Flagler’s motion to stay in Florida. Following the decision, the way had been cleared for the Seminoles to launch.

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In what has been hailed as an historic victory, the gaming compact was initially approved over two years ago. This screeched to a halt in December 2021 when the District of Colombia ruled the Seminole tribe’s compact infringed upon the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). 

This ruling came after a suit was filed by West Flagler and Bonita-Fort Myers. The suit challenged whether offering online sports betting state-wide through servers on tribal land, counted as betting on tribal land.

However, the DC court ruling was reversed in June 2023 by the DC District Court of Appeals. This once again gave the Seminoles free reign in Florida again.

This led to a back-and forth fight between West Flagler and various legal entities. In August, West Flagler filed for a rehearing in the case it lost against Debra Haaland, secretary of the interior. 

This was finally settled, when the US Supreme Court denied West Flagler’s motion to stay in Florida. This then cleared the way for the Seminoles to launch.

Casino and gaming breaks all records in Las Vegas

Never has “Viva Las Vegas” rung truer than this year. With much celebration, US commercial gambling now remains on course for a record year. Revenue of $16.17bn was posted during Q3 2023, much of it attributable to casino.

In total, this means that the figures released by the American Gaming Association (AGA) for the three months to 30 September show US gambling revenue is up 6.1% year-on-year.

This was the 11th straight quarter of annual revenue growth and the best third quarter on record for casino and gaming.

Nevada in particular was a major standout, where land-based gaming revenue grew 2.9% year-on-year, reaching $3.88bn.

LAS VEGAS on upward trajectory

The surge was propelled by a record-breaking recent quarter (Q3) for Strip casinos ($741.2m). The period also saw the highest baccarat handle in Nevada state history: $458.4m, a 50.1% increase year-on-year.

Not to be outdone, New Jersey’s Atlantic City also saw year-to-date gambling revenue exceed $2.4 bn in October, its highest to date.  

Casino and gaming in the US is expected to continue on its upward trajectory throughout 2024 and, if visits to Las Vegas are anything to go by, we’re certainly on an upward trend.

July saw the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) releasing preliminary estimates showing the city attracted 3.41 million international visitors in 2022.

This represents a 162% gain over the 1.3 million in 2021 and 1.14 million recorded in 2020.

While not yet back to pre-Covid levels, we’ve seen it regain 60% of the 5.6 million international visitors that visited in 2019 prior to the pandemic.

It’s certainly also a significant improvement on 2021, when only 23% of Las Vegas visitors came from overseas.

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