During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in April and May 2020, when land based casinos were shut down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, online casinos witnessed a significant spike in business.
However, Nevada missed out on this online gaming spike and collected just $9.44 million in gaming revenues—a steep decline of almost 100% from the same figures for April and May 2019.
Land based casinos were also closed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
However, despite their casinos being closed during April and May 2020, both states were able to generate more revenue than Nevada. New Jersey reported earning $178.4 million during these two months, while Pennsylvania reported earning $108 million.
Industry experts and analysts believe that New Jersey and Pennsylvania’s success when compared to Nevada is due to their robust online gambling industries, which features online casino games on top of online poker. Both states host online casinos with ties to Nevada properties, such as the Golden Nugget, MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment, the owner of WSOP.com.
John Pappas, the spokesperson for iDevelopment and Economic Association (iDEA Growth), believes that Nevada is experiencing a downswing due to their reticence regarding online gambling.
Pappas said that Nevada must prepare to expand their online gambling scene soon to compete with other states. He added that the initiative lies in the hands of brick and mortar casinos, a segment that has long resisted online gambling sites, due to fears that the sites will eat into their traditional businesses.
Pappas’ assessment was echoed by Chris Grove, an analyst for Eilers and Krejcik Gaming Research. Grove noted that, if Nevada had a similarly robust online gambling industry, they would likely have generated more revenue during the COVID-19 shutdowns.
Nevada’s Online Gaming Limited to Poker
There is still no definitive word on when Nevada plans to expand its online gambling offerings. Online gambling was legalized by Nevada legislators in 2002, but the initiative was quashed after the Department of Justice stepped in.
Since the Department of Justice’s 2011 reversal of their interpretation of the Federal Wire Act, five states have begun to offer online gambling. Delaware, West Virginia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania all offer online gambling, with Nevada offering just online poker. A number of other states have legal online casino games, but they are yet to go live. Nevada casinos have yet to make any serious moves to expand to online casino games anytime soon.