Slots, Sports Betting and Segregation: Europe vs. the US

Although all members of the gambling market are able to live in harmony in Europe, the same can’t be said for the US. While slots and sports betting live alongside each other in countries such as the UK, Ireland, France and Germany, the US market prefers to keep things separate and this culture of segregation was exemplified by a recent political vote in Idaho.

A recent effort to utilise slot machines to help the horse racing industry in the US has been blocked by the Idaho Senate. Following a debate over so-called “instant racing” machines, senate representatives took just 90 minutes to dismiss the idea with a 25-9 vote. The betting terminals, which have been likened to slots, allow punters to ante-up and speculate on old races. Slices of the profits are used to fund the horse racing industry in Idaho.

However, this culture is now under threat despite objections from political figures and those in the gaming industry. The negative vote by the Senate will now be reviewed by the House and, if agreed upon there, the betting terminals will become illegal. If this were to happen, Idaho Sen. Bob Nonini and R-Coeur d’Alen have stated that it would not only harm the local racing community, but also dissuade local businesses from investing in the state.

A Segregated Industry

This segregation of the gambling industry is something many punters in the US are trying to rally against. Recent stats have shown that in regulated states, such as New Jersey, online casino games have become big business. However, unlike platforms in Europe where users can switch from slots to sports betting with a single click, the market has been restricted and, according to some, that’s limiting the size of the market.

On top of this, gamblers who enjoy sports betting and slots, also struggle to enjoy both pursuits at the same live venue. Unlike punters in the UK who have the option to place a bet at Cheltenham and then play slots at the same venue, US gaming fans are forced to enjoy both industries separately. Although New Jersey’s Monmouth Park racetrack has been pushing to change the law regarding these restrictions, so far it has run into a barrage of legal and political hurdles.

The US Still Taking Inspiration from Europe

Much like the racing industry in Idaho, Monmouth Park isn’t able to offer slots or even casino style betting games on its premises. However, despite this apparent contempt for the European model of inclusive gaming, US igaming companies are increasingly turning towards operators in Europe for help. A recent partnership between UK gaming provider Sportech NYX Gaming LLC and Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino has resulted in a new online site for casino enthusiasts.

Following a lengthy assessment process, Resorts was given a transactional waiver and, thus, the green light by New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement to launch an igaming site. This platform will join a growing number of European-style sites which are currently serving residents of the Garden State. In fact, according to the company’s president and CEO, Mark Giannoantonio, Resorts’ online venture will take direct inspiration from across the pond and feature, “Europe’s industry-leading casino slots” courtesy of SNG Interactive and Sportech.

However, while all is well between Sportech and Resorts in New Jersey, the fact remains that the gambling industry in the US is suffering through segregation. The decision by the Idaho Senate to ban racing-style slot games is another indication that politicians aren’t interested in merging the two industries into one harmonious collective. This culture could certainly change in the coming months. However, as it stands today, the discrepancy between Europe’s gaming market and the US gaming market is huge and that can only be a bad thing for the latter.

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