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21 Gambling Predictions For 2021 Part 2: Online Poker, Casino, And Lottery

This is Part 2 of a three-part series laying out the Betting USA’s team’s 21 best predictions for the gambling world in 2021. The first installment focused on US sports betting, and in Part 2, we shift to the other forms of US online gambling: casino, poker, and lottery.

You can read Part 1 here.

The Betting USA team put on their forecasting hats to come up with 21 predictions as we head into 2021. Each prediction is designated as high, medium, or low confidence.

  • High confidence predictions are highly likely to happen.
  • Medium confidence predictions are more likely than not to happen.
  • Low confidence predictions are the Betting USA team throwing darts.

Here are our middle seven predictions about US online poker, casino, and lottery.

Prediction #8: Lotteries Embrace Online Offerings

Online lotteries produced strong results for states pre-pandemic (without cannibalizing retail lottery revenue), and COVID-19 certainly cemented their value. US states with online lotteries were able to keep revenue flowing during stay-at-home orders and ongoing consumer unease. In contrast, non-online lottery states saw revenue fall off a cliff.

Several states did what they could to get online lottery products up and running during the pandemic, and we expect that trend to continue in 2021. States are not only looking for revenue wherever they can find it, but they’re also aware of the need to protect against the possibility of future pandemics.

Any lottery that can jump into online products without legislative approval will almost certainly go down that road. And we anticipate several legislative pushes from lotteries where legislation is required.

This prediction is high confidence.

Prediction #9: There’s no Second Poker Boom Coming

Online poker saw an uptick in popularity during 2020. Still, that new/renewed interest was primarily due to cardroom closures and the ongoing restrictions that have kept poker rooms closed or at limited capacity in markets where casinos have reopened.

Even if progress is made in some locales, online poker won’t be widely available in the US anytime soon. That is why we believe the online poker numbers during the pandemic are a mirage. When the pandemic subsides and brick & mortar poker options return in earnest, the online numbers will return to their previous levels.

This prediction is high confidence.

Prediction #10: Legal Online Gambling Continues to Lag Sports Betting

In an earlier prediction, we posited a slowdown in sports betting legalization, and unfortunately, we don’t see legislatures shifting to online casino and poker. That lag will continue, although we do expect some progress in 2021. There will be plenty of bills filed, some hearings, and perhaps votes, but these efforts becoming law will be few and far between.

Online casino and poker could easily get tacked on to bills in places like Connecticut. States that recently legalized sports betting, like Indiana, have expressed some interest in online expansion. Regardless, we estimate that by the end of 2021, legal sports betting will be available in roughly 30 states. Online casino and poker will still be in the single digits.

This prediction is medium confidence.

Prediction #11: Online Gambling Revenues Fall Back to Earth

As if online gambling needed any more bad news, we also believe that by the second half of 2021, the bawdy online casino numbers Pennsylvania and New Jersey are posting will subside. In fact, H2 2021 could bring about the first year-over-year revenue declines in the history of New Jersey online casinos.

The pandemic certainly saw online revenues rise. Even with casinos partially reopening, the growth has been sticky, but that can’t last forever, and casinos will eventually reopen on a full-time basis.

A secondary factor to consider is the ongoing toll the pandemic has on the overall economy. Consumer spending habits have changed, and companies have become accustomed to operating with smaller, remote teams.  Because of these factors, many pre-pandemic jobs may no longer exist.

This prediction is medium confidence.

Prediction #12: The Wire Act Case Withers and Dies

Sheldon Adelson’s efforts to halt or, if at all possible, prohibit online gambling in the US is already on their last leg. The incoming Biden administration is unlikely to follow through on the Trump administration’s defense of its 2018 Wire Act opinion. As such, this could be the end of organized resistance to online gambling.

With every state that legalizes online gambling (be it casino, poker, sports betting, or lottery), prohibitions lose steam. When it was a trio of states offering online casino products, these prohibition efforts were a severe threat. With half the states in the country offering online betting, it’s shifted to a nuisance.

This prediction is high confidence.

Prediction #13: Pennsylvania Overtakes New Jersey as the iGaming Leader

New Jersey’s time in the sun as the online casino leader in the US market could be coming to an end. Its neighbor, Pennsylvania, has a larger population and has established itself as a robust online casino market during the pandemic.

The pandemic certainly accelerated Pennsylvania’s online casino maturation, and by the end of 2021, we expect Pennsylvania to eclipse New Jersey in monthly online casino revenue.  

This prediction is medium confidence.

Prediction #14: Michigan and Pennsylvania Ok Interstate Online Poker

Interstate online poker is a thing in the US, but efforts stalled out after the aforementioned Wire Act opinion issued in 2018. But things could get back on track by the second half of 2021. Pennsylvania has long hinted it wants to team up with New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. Legislation in Michigan expressly authorized regulators to enter into interstate online poker agreements with other states.

With the Wire Act case likely to fall by the wayside in 2021, Betting USA believes both states, Michigan and Pennsylvania, will enter into an interstate agreement with the other online poker states. That said, we don’t expect either state to start pooling players until 2022, as the decision will likely have to wait until the Wire Act case is resolved.

This prediction is medium confidence.

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