Nevada’s new casino regulators have a long way to go before the state is ready to take the plunge.
But it’s not just Nevada that’s in limbo: a handful of other states have shut down gambling and closed casinos online in recent weeks, and regulators in Arizona, Florida and Nevada are preparing for what could be a similar scenario.
While the exact timeline for when these jurisdictions will return to regular gaming is unknown, the timing is likely to be favorable for Nevada.
“We’ve seen a lot of good news come out of Vegas,” said Mark Belsky, the president and chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., a casino operator.
“There is a lot more momentum in Vegas now than it was a couple of weeks ago.”
What’s behind the state’s gambling woes?
Nevada was the first state to fully legalize the online gaming industry in 2016, allowing players to play at casinos for a reduced price and a chance to win cash prizes.
But since then, Nevada has seen an influx of visitors, a surge in online gaming revenue and the state government’s inability to keep pace with the new casino operators.
Nevada’s largest casinos were shuttered in 2016 and are still open but have not reopened since.
The state is also in the midst of a legal battle with MGM Resorts International, which has been trying to shut down two casinos and is suing Nevada over its implementation of online gambling.
Nevada is now suing MGM over its decision to close the remaining two casinos.
The latest round of legal battles between MGM and the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NVGCB) comes as Nevada faces an uncertain future.
The two sides are in a dispute over whether Nevada casinos should be allowed to open in 2017, a year after they were originally scheduled to open.
MGM is also suing to overturn a 2016 ruling by the state Gaming Control Commission that made Nevada casinos more stable and efficient.
MGM’s lawsuit contends that the Gaming Control board improperly gave MGM more authority to impose restrictions on the casinos than it had.
The Nevada Gaming Commission ruled in December that MGM casinos should open in 2018, but MGM and its partners are appealing.
Belsky and others said the current legal standoff over whether casinos should reopen is a sign of the ongoing challenges that lie ahead.
“We don’t want to lose sight of the fact that we are going to have to go through this legal wringer,” he said.
“The challenges will be there for a while.
There is no easy way to get through this.”
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