Will online gaming damage Las Vegas’ brick and mortar industry?

With online gambling becoming legalized and regulated in a growing number of US states, questions have started to be asked about whether the rise of iGaming will occur at the cost of attendance in brick and mortar casinos, and particularly in Las Vegas.

© Gail Mooney

While Nevada has not yet joined the likes of New Jersey (home of Atlantic City) in legalizing and regulating all online gambling in the state, online poker and sports betting are already available, and online casino play is unlikely to be far behind.

However, it’s fair to say that much of the foot traffic that comes through Las Vegas casinos is not from the state of Nevada, but tourists from the US and beyond looking to experience the infamous Sin City. Sizable portions of the people come from Canada, where online casinos are available, but when it comes to the land based casinos, there is nothing comparable to what Las Vegas has to offer.

To some, it seems impossible that Vegas could experience a loss of interest, but for others, the growth of iGaming in the US may be damaging to its profits.

Others make an argument that online casinos could work as new acquisition and education channels for Vegas. Websites like VegasSlotsOnline already offer free play of virtually any game variant that’s offered in Sin City, which attracts a lot of visitors. With playing for money online made legal, more people could start playing these games for real money rather than for pure entertainment.

The Atlantic City Boom

One thing going for Vegas is precedent. Since New Jersey legalized all forms of online gambling, the once fading Atlantic City has returned swiftly to prominence, generating $217.5 million in internet gaming through June 2019. That equates to a 55.8% increase from the same time the year before.

However, whether this is translatable in Vegas is less certain, mainly because online gambling is a large reason for the revenue rise in Atlantic city, with iGaming revenue reaching $482.7m in 2019.

Sports betting is the big market here, but online casinos and poker aren’t far behind. If Las Vegas does find itself losing its footing as the US capital of gambling, the Garden State, with Atlantic City leading the charge, may be poised to grab the market share.

More than Just Casinos

It is, without doubt, unfair to suggest that a rise in online gambling would remove the temptation for people to visit Las Vegas. While some believe gambling to be the most famous aspect, Las Vegas is far more than just casinos.

Entertainment comes from every direction. With lavish hotels and restaurants, numerous cabaret shows and performances from some of the most famous musicians on the planet, these are just some of the attractions that lure tourists to Vegas.

As for the casinos themselves, however good online casinos get, and however impressive the graphics on live games become (and they truly have), there is no replacement for the sensation of walking into a huge, gold trimmed Vegas casino. And it’s unlikely that will ever stop being an exciting draw for tourists and locals alike.

One thing that will always make Vegas stand out is the personal touches. Yes, you can receive comps from an online casino, but that’s not quite the same as having a bottle of champagne or even a free room upgrade in a Vegas casino. Granted, it may not be frequent, but you know it happens, and sometimes that’s enough!

The Downside

There is no guarantee that Vegas won’t feel any effects from the online casino industry. For a long time, brick and mortar casinos were essentially free from competition in the US market. But with the recent regulation changes, that simply isn’t true anymore.

Some believe smaller, lesser frequented casinos around the rest of the US may take a hit in the years to come, as more states legalize gambling.

The truth is, Las Vegas will always be synonymous with gambling. It will always tempt high rollers and partyers alike to its bright lights and long nights. But to suggest that Las Vegas will not feel any effects from the rise of iGaming is perhaps to be a little optimistic as well. Sin City isn’t going anywhere, but it might have to adapt to continue to thrive.

**This is a sponsored post by Erik King. Views, thoughts and opinions expressed in text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to Vegas.com.