The National Council of Legislators from Gaming States will hold its winter meeting in Las Vegas this weekend, with a focus on 2023 and the possible expansion of gaming.
The conference, held at Resorts World Las Vegas, kicks off in earnest on Friday with a keynote address by American Gaming Association President and CEO Bill Miller. Registration is still open at https://www.nclgs.org/index.php/events/nclgs-winter-meeting-las-vegas.
The conference will bring together 250 legislators, regulators, operators, and suppliers from all over the country. It closes Sunday morning with a roundtable on the prospects for igaming next year.
Michael Pollock, managing director of Spectrum Gaming Group, which serves as the executive director of the NCLGS, said the overarching message of this year’s conference is that change is a constant. “Every aspect of gaming is changing and much more rapidly than in the past.
“Different states are taking different approaches to all of these verticals and we’re in the process right now of seeing significant expansion in igaming and ilottery coming on the heels of a tremendous expansion of sports betting,” Pollock said. “How do you as a state legislator digest all these changes?”
Legislators need to hear from industry stakeholders, not only during the sessions, but also the networking breaks, Pollock said. Stakeholders also need to hear the concerns of lawmakers.
“State legislators are dealing with dozens of issues—insurance, taxes, health care, and others,” Pollock said. “Gaming is just one of those issues. On top of that, every year to two years, new legislators come on board and need to be educated from scratch. That’s an important driver of what we try to do.”
Plenty of legislation will be put forward in 2023 and subsequent years, with states continuing to expand gambling.
“A lot of states will be kicking the tires of either starting off with or expanding gaming,” Pollock said. “New York is looking at igaming. There’s potential for expansion in Texas, Georgia, Alabama, and Indiana. They’re all at different stages, but trying to answer the same question. The basic question NCLGS endeavors to address is, what are the best practices in gaming law and regulation?”
Pollock said the expansion of igaming has been slower than expected, since sports betting was much more palatable as an entry point. However, the industry and states recognize that igaming has better margins, a larger player pool, and can generate more revenue than sports betting.
“That’s where legislators can go next,” Pollock said. States from New York to Indiana and others are looking at adding igaming to their mix. Meanwhile, legislation is being considered in Georgia and other states for other forms of gaming. The point is, the pace of adoption is not slowing down in 2023.”
Pollock doesn’t see igaming expanding as rapidly as sports betting, but “it’s going to be significant. There’s no question about that.”
On Friday, the Committee on Casinos will hold a session on how retail casinos can adjust to the growth of online gaming, sports betting, electronic and skill games, e-sports, virtual reality, and other entertainment options. The discussion will center on how to integrate them at their venues and whether they have the same payoffs for states as traditional slots and table games. The panel will feature Kevin Jones, chief strategy officer and chief legal officer of Genting Americas; Blake Rampmaier, senior vice president and CIO for Boyd Gaming; and June Taylor, chair of the Ohio Casino Control Commission.
The Committee on the Emerging Forms of Gaming on Friday will discuss cyberattacks, data breaches, digital fraud, and other threats to platforms and businesses and what casinos and the igaming industry are doing to best prepare.
The Committee on Indian Gaming will talk about the record-high gaming revenue for tribes and how regulators and operators can continue that growth.
The Committee on Responsible Gaming has formed a Safer Gaming Resolution Working Group to gather input from stakeholders across a range of disciplines related to responsible and problem gambling. The goal is to identify, review, and synthesize this input into a resolution that can assist legislators across the United States to consider and adopt best practices.
Also Friday, the Committee on Lotteries will talk about the challenges and opportunities facing legislators and lottery directors. As ilottery and igaming continue to expand, can competition with casinos be avoided? How should lotteries address issues related to the expansion of unregulated gray-market slot machines in convenience stores?
Friday’s keynote luncheon features Paul Steelman, CEO of Steelman Partners, an American architecture and interior-design firm that has designed casinos and integrated resorts around the world.
On Saturday, the Select Committee on Inclusion and Diversity will hear a presentation on a UNLV study on women in the workforce presented by Becky Harris, distinguished fellow in gaming and leadership at the UNLV International Gaming Institute.
A session on how laws are evolving to permit cashless transactions at casinos and lotteries will examine the shift toward cashless environments and the legal barriers preventing the full deployment of the emerging and accepted payment technologies.
The conference will eye industry consolidations in the future, with new antitrust regulators in Washington, D.C. and more active state regulators. The session will address the legal and regulatory hurdles and the opportunities of consolidation.
On Sunday, a panel of experts on the “perennial war” on illegal gambling will discuss what steps can and should be taken to win.