Unlike the decades when Nevada and then Atlantic City enjoyed a casino monopoly in the U.S., legalized gaming in some form has proliferated throughout the country. Today, 40 states have some form of wagering, and casinos have sprung up on land, rivers, on Indian reservation lands and in racetracks. Also, video lottery terminals in taverns are in several states, some with operator participation and others run strictly by the state government.
As the economy tightens and tax revenues decrease at every state capital, gaming is reluctantly being viewed as an opportunity to create jobs, raise tax revenues and revitalize the economies of various jurisdictions. At least 14 states plan some type of gaming expansion in their markets.
However, for operators, it is a mixed bag, depending on who controls the game. Illinois will open the program to operator-run VLTs, and Pennsylvania is still working on a potential plan. As previously mentioned, Ohio is struggling to overcome a legal challenge that would eliminate operator involvement at all.
In the coming months, we will take a close look at how increased gaming opportunities affect the coin-operated amusement industry. No doubt, there will be winners and losers in 2010.