The Washington Times-Herald

State News

March 3, 2013

Maureen Hayden: Social media may be more appealing to gamblers

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers have been debating whether to give the state’s casinos more financial incentives to compete with the shiny new gambling palaces popping up in Ohio.

They’re fearful that fickle gamblers will take their dollars — and the millions in tax revenues they generate every year—across the border to one of the four big-city casinos that have opened in the Buckeye State in the last 10 months.

What should worry them more: How easy it is for you to sit at home in your underwear, using your laptop or mobile device to place your bets online.  

Americans gambled away about $4 billion in 2011 using online wagering, according to a recent report by the American Gaming Association. Most of that money was spent through offshore websites, in the nearly 85 countries that have legalized online gambling.

That was the same year the U.S. Department of Justice cracked down on illegal online gambling here in the U.S., with massive criminal and civil charges against the biggest Web-based poker sites.

No matter. The American Gaming Association’s report, issued late last year, said that crackdown barely made a dent, and that gaming industry experts see online gambling as the wave of the future whether it’s legal or not.

Consider this, from an association survey of those experts: Nearly 70 percent of them estimate U.S. bettors will annually spend between $8 billion and $11 billion on Internet gambling five years from now.

Most of the rest think the market will grow more “moderately”—to a size of $6 billion to $7 billion annually over the next five years. And that’s even if Congress doesn’t pass legislation that legalizes and regulates online gaming.

If Congress opts to regulate online gaming, and even if states like Indiana opt not to follow suit, about one-third of those experts predict Americans will be spending between $14 billion and $17 billion annually in online wagering by 2018.  

The bricks-and-mortar casinos may argue that the threat of Internet gambling is overblown; that most bettors will still want they offer: Acres of slot machines and gaming tables and cocktails and the company of others.  

But Americans have abandoned bricks-and-mortar department stores, bookstores and movie theaters in favor of the online alternatives. Why should betting away your hard-earned dollars be any different?

Just more than half of those industry experts surveyed by the American Gaming Association said legalized online gaming in the U.S. could help grow the existing casino industry in states like Indiana. But almost one-quarter of them think that legalized online gambling would cannibalize business from existing casino operations.

Here’s another factor, to complicate the odds: Casino patrons are an aging crowd — the American Gaming Association puts the median age at 47. They may still like the casino experience, but it’s not one that appeals to a younger demographic.

So consider the threat that social media, favored by a younger demographic, may play now that it’s stepped into the world of gaming. Last summer, Facebook launched a real-money gambling app that offers winners cash prizes. It’s only available to Facebook users in the United Kingdom who over the age of 18. For now, that is.

Indiana has become dependent on gaming tax revenues, so the stakes just keep getting higher as our casinos face increased competition. But one of the questions that legislators need to ask, in considering giveaways to the industry: Are we chasing good money after bad?

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

1
Text Only
State News
  • Our view: Throw open the doors

    As allegations and scandals continue to explode about hidden wait lists and cooked books at VA medical care facilities across the country, with hints of even more heinous findings to come, we have to wonder why it's business as usual in our nation's

    May 29, 2014

  • nws-gb011714 Land Zeppelin 2 (front page pic) Inventor hopes Bike Zeppelin takes off GREENSBURG - A local civil engineer has created a Zeppelin-shaped apparatus that allows bicyclists to ride in the rain without getting wet. Greensburg resident Jim Gorman remembers the day that inspiration struck: Nov. 22, 2011. It rained all day, an

    January 17, 2014 3 Photos

  • Legislator pushes for public disclosure of former meth homes INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Wendy McNamara knew methamphetamine was a scourge on her district in southwestern Indiana, but the damaging effects of the drug really hit her when she met a real estate appraiser who’d suffered lung damage after visiting a

    December 14, 2013

  • Bird statue to be unveiled in Terre Haute Serving double duty as a baseball infielder for the American League's Toronto Blue Jays and basketball guard for Brigham Young University, 20-year-old Danny Ainge found time in March 1979 to drive from Provo, Utah, to Salt Lake City to catch an in-pe

    November 5, 2013

  • news school bill.jpg Pence announces school safety grants

    Flanked by fourth-grade members of the Ambassadors Club and student council at Cedar Elementary School here, Gov. Mike Pence announced more than $9 million in grants for schools statewide to enhance their security.

    November 1, 2013 1 Photo

  • Coats returns home to listen to Hoosiers INDIANAPOLIS -- Republican U.S. Sen. Dan Coats returned home to Indiana this week, hoping to turn the political conversation away from a failed GOP strategy that partially shut down the federal government and toward what he sees as more critical issu

    October 24, 2013

  • Congressman standing firm on government shutdown

    Todd Rokita of Indiana’s Fourth Congressional District has been an outspoken opponent of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — a k a Obamacare — since it was signed into law in 2010.

    On Tuesday, the first day the federal government partially shut down in 17 years, the Republican congressman wasn’t backing down.

    October 1, 2013

  • Laws that carry automatic loss of driver's license under review INDIANAPOLIS -- The legislative study committee that proposed the massive rewrite of Indiana's felony code will soon take on another tough issue: The automatic penalty that causes thousands of Hoosiers to lose their driving privileges for committing

    September 19, 2013

  • Gingerich_AP PHOTO.jpg Prison sentence of 12-year-old prompts new juvenile sentencing law

    Three years ago, when 12-year-old Paul Henry Gingerich became the youngest person in Indiana ever sent to prison as an adult, his story gained international attention and sparked questions about whether children belong behind bars with grown-up offenders.

    June 14, 2013 2 Photos

  • Supt_Ritz 1 .jpg Ritz orders independent analysis of ISTEP results

    Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz has hired an outside expert to determine the validity of ISTEP+ test scores of nearly 80,000 students who were kicked offline while taking the high-stakes standardized test.

    June 10, 2013 1 Photo