Three States to Vote on Gambling Referendums This November

by Jim Hall

This November, three states have the opportunity to see changes in their respective gambling industries as residents vote on gambling referendums.

2016 has been a big year for gambling changes. Many states have shut out the daily fantasy sports betting industry while others have created legislation to regulate the industry. As far as online gambling is concerned, many states have been considering the option but no legislation has passed as of yet. Several other states have considered expansions or even beginning a gambling industry and this November, three states will have referendums up for a vote that could see great change involving gambling options.

Which States are Involved?

Rhode Island StateFor this November, three states will have voter initiatives on the ballot that involve gambling. Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island will all see their citizens voting on the subject of gambling next month. Arkansas was set to have a referendum on the ballot but just last week the state Supreme Court voted to remove Issue 5 due to the title and information regarding the measure.

Residents in New Jersey will be considering Question 1 which will determine if casinos will be allowed in the northern region of the state. Since 1976, casino gaming has been limited to Atlantic City and this area is now floundering. Proponents of the referendum feel gaming in the northern portion of the state will bring in revenues as well as help with competition from neighboring states. If voters approve, two casinos will be allowed in this region.

Voters in Rhode Island will also have a Question 1 on the ballot which will ask if a gambling facility or activity be allowed in Tiverton. The Twin Rivers Management Company has created a proposal that would see their gaming license move from Newport Grand Casino to Tiverton. A new casino hotel facility would be built. The gaming venue would be moving due to the Newport community not allowing table games to be added to the facility. Several groups are in favor of the referendum including the Newport County Chamber of Commerce, Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.

As far as Massachusetts is concerned, the referendum will be asking if the constitution of the Commonwealth can be changed to allow a second slots parlor. The question asks if voters will approve expanded slot gaming and voting yes would allow the second parlor to be created. A gambling law from 2011 allows for as many as three resort casinos and only one slots parlor. Penn National Gaming is the only operator of a slots parlor in the state. If approval is given, a new venue would be created in Revere which is located just four miles from the Wynn Boston Harbor gaming facility of Everett.

Looking Ahead

Each state seems to have enough support to see the referendums passed during the November vote. It will be interesting to see the outcomes and if gaming expansions will take place in each state. Expectations were high that another state would join Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware in offering online casino gaming but no legislation has passed to do so.

California and Pennsylvania showed promise but have yet to be able to move legislation forward. California is stuck with a fight between the tribes, PokerStars and racetracks while Pennsylvania can’t seem to get the Senate to move forward a bill that was passed by the House back in June. So, while the land based gaming options of several states may expand, it will most likely be next year or even longer before we see a state join in the online gaming industry of the United States.