RENO, Nevada – Casino speculation is rife in the Silver State. What does the future hold for the casino and gambling world in 2017 and beyond? Questions abound. For example, what really went on behind the scenes when the U.S. gaming bills dating back to 2006 made online casinos illegal virtually overnight? Who pulled the strings, and what are the chances of the strings becoming untangled when the U.S. president-elect is a casino mogul himself?
Meanwhile, in the Great White North, Canada is busy approving online casinos. Perhaps this is a sign of things to come. One of the best things about online gaming is that it takes away a lot of the ancillary overhead costs. There’s no free prime rib or nice-looking cocktail waitresses to pay for. Money doesn’t have to be hauled around, counted and secured in the traditional sense. There are no parking lots and no security guards. These days, people are able to gamble in the privacy of their own homes. We can plainly see how the Internet has opened up a proverbial Pandora’s Box of influences on the United States and the global community of nations. Online gambling is a part of this new paradigm in the digital age.
This article claims that President-elect Trump was looking into bring a casino to Cuba back in 1998. Since Canada has traditionally had good relations with Cuba, will we see similar overtures in the near future? With the death of Fidel Castro, rapprochement is certainly possible. Remember that Cuba was a gambling and casino Mecca in the 1950s before the rise of Castro and the Cuban Revolution – backed by the erstwhile Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Turning again toward what a Trump administration might align itself with ideologically and legally in terms of gaming, there is, of course, the temptation to look into the crystal ball of deregulation. Former President Richard M. Nixon conceptualized and pushed through OSHA, the DEA and the EPA. This is an incredible legislative legacy. The late 1960s and early 1970s were turbulent times in the United States. Not since the 1930s or the Civil War of the 1860s had society been so off kilter.
Environmental degradation was growing. There was Woodstock, the Apollo lunar missions, Height Ashbury, Altamont, Charles Manson and the unpopular Vietnam War. There was also the 1973 Yom Kippur War and resultant oil embargo – as the United States was “punished” by OPEC for re-arming Israel at the height of that conflict. Drug use was on the rise. The Soviet Union, with its hammer and sickle, was proud to take the side of the working class (when not sending them to Siberia to be worked to death in brutal, frigid conditions almost unimaginable to us).
Today, many men and women working in the construction field will tell you plainly that the “OSHA rulebook has been written in blood.” We need OSHA. We need the DEA. We need the EPA. But these types of programs are often eschewed by liberty-minded Republicans. Clearly the trends we’re likely to see during the Trump administration will be footloose and fancy free. Safety training through various OSHA classes will likely fall into a decline phase. As such, it is possible that work-related injuries and deaths will probably see an increase. Heroin, “Molly” and similar drugs are out of control while the DEA is unable to reign in the madness. Fukushima and the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” are ravaging the Pacific Ocean while the EPA is powerless to confront them.
What’s at stake here is Nixon’s legislative legacy. (Never mind Nixon’s fascination with “tapes” and how the NSA is now archiving our emails, cellular calls and other types of communication in Nixonian fashion.) Many Americans take OSHA, the DEA and EPA for granted. That said, with governmental regulations in a state of flux, the casino industry, including online gambling, might be standing right now at the dawn of a new age of freedom, friendly ears in Washington, D.C., and increased cash flows.
Looking around the United States, we see California has its casinos – some related in a direct or tangential way to Native American Indians. Nevada has Reno and Las Vegas, cities that are what they are. Missouri – let’s say the space between St. Louis and Alton, Illinois – has its niche of riverboat gambling, amongst other places to engage in games of chance. Atlantic City is the Las Vegas of the East Coast. The shadowy area in this grand spectacle is the slice of gambling that’s carried out over the Internet.
Remember Trump’s Taj Mahal? It’s likely that the same man who became synonymous with gaming in the 1980s and 1990s might well see gambling (including online gambling) as being good for the bottom line in various states of the union. He’s not likely to be offended by the proposition. Having watched alcohol ravage his brother, Trump himself does not drink. Yet he does not eschew gaming. As such, that’s likely to have an influence upon his legislative bent.
Chris Christie’s influence on Trump (if any) could also be a key since while serving as New Jersey’s governor, Christie is no stranger to Atlantic City’s desires to branch out into online gambling. As noted, much has changed in the gaming industry (in terms of the online legalities) since 2006.
“The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 [was] the bill signed into law by then-President George W. Bush that essentially made it illegal for credit card companies to process gambling transactions, thereby forcing some big players out of the U.S. market. But the UIGEA was controversial, not just in its content, but in the fact that it was tied to a Safe Port Act, which was essentially an anti-terrorism bill. By voting ‘No’ on that bill, senators would essentially be saying that they approve of terrorism.
“Under the Obama administration … the Department of Justice came out with an opinion that the ‘Wire Act‘ only applied to sports betting. That decision paved the way for individual states to get in on the online gaming scene. And as soon as that opinion was made, New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware went to work to create a regulated online casino market … So it’s safe to say that states will be able to continue to offer online casino games. And further to that, online casinos that operate from other international jurisdictions will still be able to serve players as they currently do.”
Hillary Clinton can boast of a history of blocking casino gambling in Arkansas, while promoting it in the Catskills while a senator from New York. She believes that casinos and gambling can be of at least some benefit to the economy. And there are many in both the Republican and Democratic Parties who echo that very same sentiment. We are a far cry from the “Legion of Decency” and ax-wielding New York City policemen who used to raid and destroy gambling dens in the 1930s. Back then, such “dens of iniquity” were seen as a sort of social leprosy. Now with the monetization of everything from daycare to space junk, actual/potential gambling revenues cannot afford to be ignored by our political leaders.
Leading back to the original supposition, the next four or even eight years under the new Trump administration will likely be a boon to the gambling industry as a whole.