Gaming on the Ballot: Colorado gaming expansion could be lucrative for casinos Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · November 5, 2020 at 7:40 am The voter approval of sports betting in Maryland, South Dakota and Louisiana during Tuesday’s election understandably drew much of the gaming community’s attention. However, the overwhelming approval of Colorado’s gaming expansion referendum could be worth millions of dollars in revenue to casino operators in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek. The referendum, Amendment 77, removes the $100 wagering limit on a single bet and allows casinos to begin offering several previously forbidden games, such as baccarat, keno, and the big six wheel. “We believe the increase in wagers will appeal to higher net worth clients, potentially fueling more trips/overnight stays,” said Roth Capital Partners gaming analyst David Bain. Colorado casinos were allowed to add sports betting in May, and Bain said adding new games to augment the traditional table game offerings – blackjack, craps, and roulette – could theoretically double casino revenues in some properties. “An augmentation to baccarat and/or Pai Gow titles could also expand the demographic, particularly the Asian patron, in our view,” Bain said. Truist Securities gaming analyst Barry Jonas said the cap on wagering limits had “hindered the marketplace.” He suggested that Monarch Casinos, which operates a property in Black Hawk, will see a boost from the change. Monarch Casino in Black Hawk, Colorado In total, voters in six states approved gaming expansion Tuesday, much to the delight of both the investment community and gaming industry insiders. With sports betting winning voter approval in Maryland, Louisiana, and South Dakota, half of the U.S. states have now authorized the activity. All 25 states and Washington D.C. could offer sports betting by the end of 2021. “It appears that Americans are becoming increasingly comfortable with legalized gambling,” David Schwartz, a gambling historian with the University of Nevada Las Vegas, told The Associated Press. “We have reached a point where voters seem satisfied that legalizing gambling will offer positive returns for their state.” The view from D.C. and Wall Street American Gaming Association CEO Bill Miller said 44 states have some form of legal gaming, while 45% of all U.S. adults – some 115 million people – live in states with legal sports betting. “As a result of successful ballot measures in six gaming states, more Americans will have access to much-needed job opportunities, dedicated tax revenue, and safe, regulated entertainment options closer to home,” Miller said. AGA CEO Bill Miller Investors rewarded both casino companies and sports betting operators with a boost in their stock values Wednesday. Industry insiders praised the success as a sign that gaming has become a Main Street industry in the U.S. DraftKings, which financially backed the Maryland referendum, saw its stock price bump up 5.31% Wednesday on the Nasdaq. Shares of Penn National, which operates sports betting through its partnership with sports media platform Barstool Sports, saw a 6.55% stock price increase Wednesday. Penn is expected to exercise an agreement to purchase the operations of Hollywood Casino Perryville in Maryland to take advantage of the new sports betting opportunity. Shares of Golden Entertainment, which owns Rocky Gap Casino in western Maryland, and Caesars Entertainment, which operates Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, also jumped on the sports betting opportunity. Golden shares rose 8.68% on the Nasdaq. Caesars’stock was up 4.17% on the Nasdaq. Investors were also supportive of Caesars because it will operate one of the four casinos approved by voters in Virginia. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who supported the sports betting ballot question, said state lawmakers will consider regulations and language governing the activity when the legislature meets in January. In South Dakota, casinos in Deadwood – the state’s only gaming market – will need the state’s legislature to approve sports betting regulations. Morgan Stanley gaming analyst Thomas Allen said the three states could open up a $537 million sports betting market. A growing interest With Virginia adding four casinos through its legislation, and Nebraska allowing casinos to operate at state-licensed horse racing tracks in Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island, Columbus, and South Sioux City, Miller said gaming would continue to draw the interest of both federal and state representatives. Miller said the AGA will continue to work with congressional leaders “to shape a favorable policy environment for gaming.” He stressed the “positive economic impact” the casino industry has on local communities. “We also look forward to continuing to work with members on both sides of the aisle to address overly burdensome and unnecessary regulations and taxes, as well as reducing illegal gambling operations that continue to pose a risk to the American public and the economic success of our industry,” Miller said. He said the immediate need is to address the national economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic during the lame-duck session. “To effectively recover, our industry needs critical relief that aids employee retention and rehiring, provides liability protections for responsible operators, supports tribal nations, and jumpstarts the travel and tourism industry,” Miller said. “And we’ll continue to work with leaders in this Congress and the Trump administration to advance these immediate priorities.” Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.