This Is Casino Reports

Brett Smiley

Updated on:

casino dealer

The last time I took this cold plunge, I truly had no idea what industry, let alone what exactly, I was getting myself into. Someone had sent me a snapshot of the Catena Media 2016 annual report and explained what they do. Sure, I thought, that seems like a business I’d like to get involved in — or at least an experiment that sounded more life-affirming than transcribing another episode of Undisputed in order to collect a paycheck. 

That was May 2017, and an awful lot has changed — domestic, abroad, and at home, where two young humans now live under my roof. Kids are expensive, man, so the hustle persists. Plus, I’ve got gas in the tank. 

The focus then was sports and sports betting, the Supreme Court, and the real possibility that legal online betting may wash all across the U.S. (Spoiler: It did, even faster than many bulls predicted.) So I launched a website covering that industry and ran it for six years.

This time around, the undergirding purpose is covering the world of legal online casinos, efforts at expansion, and all the fascinating people and companies that inhabit the gambling industry.

Then and now

As many of you know, legal online casino gaming was born in the U.S. in 2013, in New Jersey, five years before PASPA fell.  But expansion in this realm has proved a much slower burn. Notwithstanding the extracurricular activities and curiously robust credit line of a certain MLB interpreter, sports betting is an easier sell in a state legislature. The chief arguments for legalizing online casinos are similar — it’s already occurring, only unregulated, and it represents new revenue without a new tax — but the audience has hardened and appetites have waned. There’s a good chance that proponents of legalization get blanked in 2024. At least the odds of another state joining the ranks this year aren’t shortening.

While those of us behind Casino Reports favor legal platforms for online casinos, sports betting, poker, and the lottery, we will not exist to cheerlead for it. (That’s what lobbyists are for.) At some point, yes, we will likely have banners or ads for casinos and dabble in some of the same activities as other affiliate-driven publications.

But if things go according to plan, along the way, we will contribute quality reporting to the discourse, ask important and uncomfortable questions, imagine and execute on a variety of creative features, and prove that it’s possible to elevate quality over quantity. Then at the end of the shift, hopefully, the U.S. gambling industry will be better and more sustainable for our existence — at least before artificial intelligence renders us all obsolete. 

For there is no shortage of fascinating topics to tackle and, my goodness, we made it this many words without uttering the word “cannibalization!” I suppose we’re off to a good start.  There’s that subject, the questionable utility of stakeholder-sponsored studies illustrating one side or the other, the power and politics of labor unions, the possibility of federal regulation, affordability checks, advantage players, VIP treatment, problem gambling on college campuses, tribal gaming and the meaning of sovereignty, public perception of gambling and the industry versus echo chamber ideology, further consolidation and M&A activity, the value and importance of multiple operator brands, and so much more. 

Meanwhile, the online casino markets in New Jersey and Michigan have proved wildly successful, likewise if to a lesser extent in Pennsylvania, and there remains an incredible amount of positive potential across the states weighing the possibility of entering the arena. There’s a lot happening and a lot of room for growth. 

This is an exciting industry and a fascinating time at which to dive into it. I’m a born gambler — one who happens to also love investing in index funds; we’re all full of seeming contradictions — so it only made sense to bet on myself again in this space. Likewise for all of us who are part of this venture/adventure. I am confident that our enthusiasm for the industry will come through in the coverage. 

If you have a topic, a tip, a correction, or story idea for us, please email me at brett@thirdplanet.us, and follow me on my newly reactivated (and reset to zero!) ‘X’ account @brettsmiley or  @casino_reports, or on LinkedIn. See you out there.