Reno Casinos Nevada

Reno Casinos Chugging Along

Casino revenues fell from last year, but Reno has a trick up their sleeve to keep their head above water.

Nevada’s total casino revenue fell flat during the month of February but still managed to rake in $1.02 billion. This revenue amount was down by .62% when compared to revenues made in February of 2018. Nevadans and those analysts from the Nevada Gaming Control Board reason the decline to less tourism due to severe winter weather.

Board senior analyst Michael Lawton shared that “every weekend it seemed like there was a large winter storm that impacted visitation and travel”. February is now the second consecutive month to report a decline in gambling revenue across the state. The state is hopeful as we progress into warmer weather that revenue will stabilize.

Reno casinos were also affected by these revenue declines. However, Reno venues are hoping to reverse any declines by amping up March Madness and their sports betting focus. The Grand Sierra Resort and Casino held a Grand Hoops viewing party on March 21st & 22nd to attract patrons, fans, and bettors. Tickets were low cost and included 2 drinks, cocktails, beer, a buffet for breakfast and lunch, and stadium-style food for dinner.

The Grand Sierra showcased their 130 TVs, bar, table seating, lounge area, and VIP rooms likely to attract returning visitors. Other Reno gaming venues, like The Row, followed suit and hosted their own NCAA men’s basketball viewing parties. It is very likely these Reno casinos will repeat this formula for the NBA Playoffs beginning April 13th.

Reno was also a recent campaign stop for Massachusetts Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren. During the Senator’s stop on Saturday, she expressed her concerns for expanded online gambling to The Nevada Independent believing that online gaming “presents a whole new set of challenges” which can be difficult for states to address themselves.

She continued by relaying her concern mainly sits with online undercutting state protections, which might allow children and addicts easy access to gambling.

Online casino gambling is the only form of online gaming not yet permitted in Nevada. The legalization of online casino gambling in Nevada could greatly benefit the state in terms of tax revenue and assist casinos will struggling attendance and revenue declines. However, Nevada’s major casinos are fearful they will be cannibalized by an online market, therefore, these efforts never come to true fruition.

However, Reno online gambling sites exist offshore that are licensed and permissible to use in Nevada.

American Gaming Association Logo

American Gaming Association Now Supporting Online Gambling

The American Gaming Association, a lobbying group for land-based gambling in North America, has recently issued a new Code of Conduct that includes language specific to online gambling. The AGA has normally strayed away from the topic, but the inclusion within the Code of Conduct marks online gambling’s status as legitimate in the eyes of the AGA. The overall goal of the revised Code of Conduct is to foster dialogue between gambling stakeholders on responsible gambling.

Founded in 1994 as a lobbying organization for the land-based casino industry, the AGA has increased in size and scope ever since. The group is made up of casino owners and executives, employees, gaming product company representatives, suppliers, tribal and commercial casinos and other stakeholders. The American land-based casino business is a $240 billion industry that supports over a million jobs. The AGA’s mission statement is “to be the single most effective champion of the industry, relentlessly protecting against harmful and often misinformed public policies, and paving a path for growth, innovation and reinvestment.” While an ambitious goal, the most recent development regarding online gambling is a testament to their drive.

The first Code of Conduct was drafted in 2003 and is frequently updated to maintain consistency with industry standards, including technological and legal developments. This latest revision addresses all forms of gaming, with special mention of both online and mobile gambling. You can find online gambling mentioned in the “Pledge To Our Patrons” part of the Code, specifically under the “…To Promote Responsible Gaming” section.  Premium Reno online gambling sites all include access to resources supporting responsible gaming.

It states that AGA members will have information on responsible gaming readily available on their websites. Another mention can be found in the “…To Prevent Underage Gambling and Unattended Minors in Casinos” section, where it states that AGA casino brands must communicate legal gambling age information through their web-based platforms. The updated Code also suggests more consumer protection methods that enhance transparency around casino games’ odds and payouts; transparency with casino advertising; and holding advertisers responsible for how they portray the probability of winning.

New Jersey is at the forefront of the domestic online gambling market, as they are one of 3 states to introduce legalized online gambling. When they authorized online casino and poker gaming, their Division of Gaming Enforcement took steps develop comprehensive consumer protections for both their online casino and poker sectors. In doing so, they set a precedent that the AGA is attempting to model.

The AGA began their Responsible Gaming Education Week in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and then moved on to Las Vegas. New Jersey is an interesting choice of location and showcases their newfound support of online gambling. Representatives of Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts were seen in attendance—another interesting point given they are 2 operators of online gambling sites.

This whole ordeal represents a change in perception from the AGA. Back in 2014, they opposed online gambling for fear of the online front stealing from land-based venues. New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware have shown that land-based casinos and online gambling sites can coexist, prompting the AGA to adopt a new point of view. Once the AGA begins lobbying as extensively for online gambling as they have for brick-and-mortar casinos, there may finally be significant progress on widespread legalization. Until then, there are legally sanctioned Reno online casinos that players can visit to enjoy online gaming.

eSports Betting Legal In NV

eSports Welcomed Into Nevada Law

A new bill has been signed into Nevada law by Governor Brian Sandoval that allows for wagers on eSports events. While not the first effort to bring eSports into the brick-and-mortar sportsbook fold, this is the first bill to be formally accepted and passed. Its effectual date is set for July 1, 2017.

Senate Bill 240, referred to as the “eSports betting bill”, expands the current Nevada gambling law to incorporate “other events” into its existing pari-mutuel betting activities, sports betting and horse/dog races. Competitive gaming falls under the vague umbrella category of “other events”. SB240 was debated in late March with the goal of ensuring the local gaming market would not be directly influenced by the introduction of eSports betting. The bill was backed by Senator Becky Harris.

Before SB240, Nevada gambling regulators permitted eSports betting and residents of big NV destinations like Las Vegas and Reno were able to place wagers through sportsbooks. However, eSports betting was technically not legal under state law. This bill grants the Nevada Gaming Commission the power to issue licenses permitting pari-mutuel betting and also the power to review all records of the eSports betting licensees.

eSports have become widely popular in recent years. The industry eventually drew enough clout to warrant the attention of bettors. The Downtown Grand received permission last year to take eSports bets, showcasing the state’s awareness of the growing market. SB240 is the first real instance of the state embracing the eSports community wholeheartedly and amending it into its legal gambling framework.

As mentioned earlier, there were previous options for eSports betting. These options include betting on eSports through legitimate online sportsbooks. Residents looking to begin placing wagers on eSports events can begin doing so through these legal sites. Betting lines will not be offered in the brick-and-mortar sportsbooks until sometime in July. The bill may go into effect on the first day of the month, but the bureaucratic process of granting licenses and establishing regulatory standards will take some time.

This decision is a pivotal one given the current sports betting climate online and offline. Nevada is only one of four states grandfathered in under the federal ban on sports betting known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Despite the state’s status as a legal provider of single-game betting, eSports has been neglected by the Nevada gambling community. This is not surprising given that the eSports is relatively new, though it was only a matter of time before Nevada lawmakers decided to tap into this growing source of revenue.

Governor Sandoval and the Nevada Gaming Commission’s goal is turn their state into the premier eSports destination for both fans and bettors alike. There are tournaments hosted throughout the year and soon enough there will be brick-and-mortar betting options to go along with them. The state needed to establish and implement a regulatory framework before this could happen and that is exactly what SB240 accomplishes.

You can read the actual language of the legislation here:  SB240

Reno Casino Sign

A Lucky Day in Reno – Local Casinos Off The Hook On Tax Bill

Ever get a bill in the mail and wish you didn’t have to pay it? Imagine getting a bill in the mail from your car insurance company saying that they messed up your bill and undercharged you. Then it continues to explain to you that they have been given full legal right to go after you for the monies owed based on their own mistake. That’s exactly what happened in Reno with the county tax collectors, but it all got solved in the end.

Dating back to 2008, The Washoe County Commission in Reno, Nevada had been miscalculating and under-collecting gaming taxes from the areas Casinos. A third-party audit firm, Grant Thornton LLP, found the inconsistency in the books and notified the county that they had been under-collecting the tax revenues. It was decided by the Washoe Country Attorney General, Christopher Hicks, that the county did, in fact, have the legal capacity to retroactively bill the 4.8 million dollars to the casinos in order to collect those funds.

As it turns out, the Reno casinos will not have to find a way to pay the nearly 5 million dollars in back taxes. In a truly rare occasion, the local leaders chose instead, to take full responsibility for the financial slip up and not punish the venues because they messed up their own jobs. However noble that may seem, it’s not because they didn’t want to, but because their budget manager deemed it overly challenging and time consuming (and cost effective) for the county to consider going after an amount like that.

Washoe County Budget Manager Mark Mathers was quoted on casino.org,

““We believe that any attempt to retroactively collect . . . will be met with legal challenges with collections delayed for many years and involve a significant amount of staff time.”

He did also mention that it would be unfair, “For the County to retroactively attempt to collect millions of dollars of revenues from business owners who paid the amount they were billed, have closed their financial books and made a multitude of decisions based on their financial situation since then, which now could be severely disrupted, raises many questions and concerns.”

There are also over 340 commercial businesses that receive gaming tax bills each quarter that were also under-billed. Mathers continued explaining, “During the seven-year period that gaming taxes were under-billed, many of these operators have ceased operating, changed ownership (sometimes more than once), and the basis for their bill may have changed.”

However, Washoe county’s decision didn’t only impact them. The total amount due was $4,833,930, and of that, Washoe would have collected $3,221,467, while the remaining $1.6 million would have had to be redistributed to the local governments. For instance, the City of Reno stood to gain $743,265, while the City of Sparks was out $367,425, and the Truckee Meadows and North Lake Tahoe fire protection district departments would have received collectively, $346,960.

Reno Casino Sign

Reno Reinventing Itself Amidst Gambling Decline

For decades, Reno, Nevada has been known as a destination for recreational gambling that Californians would regularly drive a few hundred miles for. However, the recent influx of legal Native American casinos across California, combined with the allure of Las Vegas, has since made Reno’s gambling scene all but obsolete.

Reno’s Lucrative Gambling Past

Reno is known as “The Biggest Little City in the World,” and sits on the edge of the Sierra Nevada mountains. For decades, the city was known as the gambling capital of the world. Its expansive casinos made it famous, and it is the birthplace of the gambling juggernaut Caesars Entertainment Corporation.

Despite being the second most populous city in the state of Nevada, the majority of its gambling business actually came from either Sacramento or the San Francisco Bay Area of California. Up until the last 20 or so years ago, the city was able to thrive on its casino culture. However, over the last couple of decades, there has been a perfect storm of events that has left Reno scrambling to find new ways to sustain itself. Not only did American Airlines buy out Reno Air in 2000, but it was around that same period of time that Las Vegas began to experience the explosive growth that has allowed it to replace Reno as the gambling capital of the world.

A third, major factor that has played into Reno’s rapid gambling decline is the expansion of the Native American gambling industry throughout California. Once Californians had a more convenient alternative to making the hours-long drive across the Sierra Nevada for a bit of gambling, Reno’s economy began rapidly losing steam. The city’s gambling revenues are down more than a quarter, and some of its biggest names are filing for bankruptcy.

In an effort to revitalize their gambling tourism industry, Reno hosts several major events throughout the year, including a classic car convention, a huge motorcycle rally, hot air balloon races and multiple top-level bowling tournaments. While these events have largely been successful and typically draw large crowds, Reno is still desperately seeking ways to pump life and cash into their economy.

Looking Ahead to the Future

Because there is no way for Reno to compete with the allure of Las Vegas’ entertainment and restaurants, the city has decided to explore other options. While Reno officials remain vehement that gambling will not disappear from the culture, they do acknowledge that gambling’s influence has waned significantly in recent years. Instead, they are looking to avenues like outdoor attractions, Silicon Valley and even becoming a premier destination for bowling.

A big part of their plan to revitalize and remake the city is to allow major tech companies like Tesla and Switch to move operations into the city. They are banking on assets like low taxes, low cost of living and the city’s proximity to Silicon Valley to lure in STEM workers that will have a considerable cash flow.

Experts say that Reno still has a long road ahead if they plan to turn the town into a tech capital, however. The Brookings Institution’s director of policy, Mike Muro, co-authored a recent report that found the state of Nevada is falling short in educating its population properly to be able to fill the jobs in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

For now, though Reno is trying to become known as a center of tech innovation, the city is still holding onto its gambling roots for the time being. At night, the bright glow of the popular casino destinations like Circus Circus and Silver Legacy can still be seen, and there are still more seedy, cheap motels than livable apartment spaces in the downtown area. And who knows what the future holds regarding legal online gambling in Reno. As the regulated industry continues to evolve in the United States, legalizing online casino gambling in Reno as well as poker and sports betting may just be their saving grace. No matter what path Reno decides to take in its efforts to reinvent itself, there is no doubt that remnants of its gambling glory days will survive.