Vegas vs Online Gambling: Will Mobile Wagering Crush Sin City?

With the familiarity and popularity of online gambling increasing at a rapid rate across America, will the Las Vegas casinos suffer?

With the familiarity and popularity of online gambling increasing at a rapid rate across America, will the Las Vegas casinos suffer?

Bonus up to:
$1,025
$25 Free Play and $1,000 Deposit Match Bonus
* New customers only. 100% match on first deposit.
3 games
5.0 rating
5.0
Bonus up to:
$1,100
$100 Site Credit and $1,000 Deposit Match
* New customers only. 100% of net losses back.
4.5 rating
4.5

For almost 100 years, the state of Nevada and specifically the city of Las Vegas have been synonymous with legalized gambling.

Since opening a thriving casino industry in the wake of the Great Depression, the city of Las Vegas’ tourism and national/international reputation continues to rely heavily on gambling, and the robust world-class casinos that followed.

In fact, the popularity of Las Vegas played a significant role in other states’ decisions to open casinos of their own. Who would turn down such an attraction?

But what does it mean for the original, unofficial “capital” of U.S. gambling? Will Las Vegas be able to thrive in a world with mobile, access-anywhere-you-want it gambling world? Or are Sin City’s days as an attraction numbered?

Let’s battle it out – Vegas vs Online Gambling!

The History of Gambling in Las Vegas

Only incorporated as a city in 1911, Las Vegas was still in its infancy when the Great Depression took hold in the late 1920s and early 1930s. But in 1931, two events would coincidentally conspire to set the stage for the city’s future:

  • Nevada legalized casino gambling
  • Construction began on the Hoover Dam

Desperate for work, construction professionals from around the United States converged on Las Vegas to work on the Hoover Dam project. The construction lasted through much of the 1930s until World War II began to pull the nation out of the depression – but many of those workers had started a life in the desert and made Las Vegas their permanent home as a result.

The 1940s Las Vegas

In the 1940s, Bugsy Siegel developed the Fabulous Flamingo, following in the footsteps of El Rancho Vegas, the first hotel/casino on what would become the Las Vegas Strip. By decade’s end, the Thunderbird had joined the Flamingo and the state’s legislature was making more than $1 million per year in gaming taxes. New laws also allowed legislators to investigate a person’s background before issuing a gaming license.

El Rancho Las Vegas
Hotel El Rancho, Las Vegas

1950s and 1960s

The 50s and 60s saw the following casinos established on the Strip:

  • Circus Circus
  • Desert Inn
  • Dunes
  • Hacienda
  • Riviera
  • Sahara Hotel & Casino
  • Sands Hotel & Casino
  • Stardust Resort & Casino
  • Tropicana

By the end of the decade, tycoon Howard Hughes was buying up all the available casinos and land in town. Consequently, his fame and reputation lent credibility to the city and industry as a whole.

The biggest development of the 1970s and 1980s was the lowering of the sports gambling tax, which saw many popular establishments develop large sportsbooks as a result. During this time, Atlantic City legalized gambling in its own right, but when Steve Wynn opened the one-of-a-kind Mirage in 1989, it cemented Las Vegas as the preeminent American gaming destination. Nevada became the nation’s fastest-growing state.

Bonus up to:
$1,000
200 Free Spins and $1,000 Deposit Match
* New customers only. Free Spins for 88 Fortunes Megaways.
2 games
4.8 rating
4.8

Cue the 1990s in Vegas

The 1990s paved the way for the Vegas we know and love today – more than 15 casino-hotel resorts opened, including Bellagio, Luxor, MGM Grand, and New York New York. As the 21st century approached, more and more states had legalized gambling in one form or another, and this increased access caused Las Vegas to embrace more of a tourist-minded approach to the gambling business.

Las Vegas in the 1990s
1990s Las Vegas

21st Century Las Vegas vs Online Gambling

After a 9/11-related downturn at the start of the 2000s, the now-famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) “What Happens Here, Stays Here” advertising campaign cemented Vegas’ reputation as a playground for young adults and high rollers alike.

Now, the future of Vegas faces challenges in both the short and long term. The recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is further complicated by the proliferation of legalized sports wagering in many states, plus the wild success of mobile casino play in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and a few other states. How will these developments impact the future of Las Vegas?

Nevada Falls Behind in Online Gambling

Even with the legalization of sports wagering in most U.S. states, the industry is still synonymous with the state of Nevada and the city of Las Vegas in particular, to the point that “Vegas” is a synonym for the business at large. It’s not uncommon to hear a sports bettor say something like “I like the Cowboys this week, Vegas has them favored by four,” a nod to the birthplace of sports wagering.

However, in the online era, Nevada is in danger of falling behind. While mobile sports betting is legal, bettors remain required to register in person at a casino. This is possibly a measure meant to “take care” of the industry that has ably funded the state for so long, but just as likely a result of slow-moving lawmakers.

Vegas vs Online Gambling

In October 2021, Nevada did enjoy its first-ever $1 billion month in terms of amounts of wagers taken in sports bets. So the industry does continue to grow in the Silver State even if that growth pales in comparison to places like New Jersey.

The bigger concern comes from the world of casino gaming. Only five states have approved online play:

  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia
  • Connecticut

However, given the overwhelming success of the industries in those states, it makes sense that gradually but surely, many states will follow in their footsteps as the tax revenue becomes too tempting to resist.

It’s probably naive to believe that Nevada will ever join that group. For Vegas vs Online Gambling, the gap is reducing. The profits of the land-based casinos on the Strip and elsewhere in the state could be potentially at risk if online casino play gains popularity in Nevada. A very unpleasant thought to the owners and operators of those establishments, not to mention state legislators.

It’s unfortunate for Nevada residents, but at least understandable given the role legalized gambling played in building the state almost from the ground up.

Bonus up to:
$1,000
100% Deposit Match Bonus up to $1,000
* New customers only. 100% match on first deposit.
4.3 rating
4.3

The Future of Las Vegas in an Online World?

Of course, that leaves one great unanswered question:

“If people can bet from anywhere on their phones, why would they continue to visit Las Vegas?”

It’s a fair question, especially against the backdrop of inflation, travel costs, and the continued reluctance of some people to travel in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those factors, however, aren’t in any way specific to The Entertainment Capital.

The idea that Las Vegas will lose its luster just because you can play casino games on your phone ignores everything that makes the city such an attraction. Bachelor parties, conventions, sporting events. Ask any American where they’d choose to host such an event, and most often Las Vegas will be one of their top answers – if not the very first thing out of their mouths.

Gambling is fun. And gambling in a casino adds an extra layer of excitement.

Bonus up to:
$1,025
$25 Free Play and $1,000 Deposit Match Bonus
* New customers only. 100% match on first deposit.
3 games
5.0 rating
5.0

But gambling in a Las Vegas casino makes you feel like part of something larger. Whether it’s the countless movies that use the town as a backdrop, the legendary stories that come from a trip to Sin City, or the sheer magnitude of possibilities for fun, Las Vegas is deeply ingrained within American and world culture to the point that predicting its demise might be the worst wager yet.

And there’s proof. During the third quarter of 2021, as the country attempted its most comprehensive “return to normal” since the 2020 shutdown, casinos on the Las Vegas strip collected $2.1 billion in gambling revenue. That’s a new record, shattering the previous mark from the final quarter of 2006.

“It’s old news that the Strip is lagging—it’s officially out pacing pre-pandemic numbers,” said Michael Lawton, a senior research analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Where Does Sports Come Into Play?

For sports fans, Las Vegas continues to grow as an attraction. The Raiders brought the NFL to town, and with it came the 2022 NFL Draft. The biggest prize fights in both boxing and UFC continue to target Vegas as a venue, with the WWE rumored to join the list for WrestleMania 40 in 2024. And just last week, newly minted billionaire LeBron James discussed his dreams of owning a Vegas NBA franchise.

Las Vegas Raiders

Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it too! Mobile and online wagering is continuing to grow, but the brick-and-mortar establishments of Las Vegas continue to be the gold standard of the gambling world. Vegas vs Online Gambling will continue to be debated for years to come.

Betting Jobs & Gambling Jobs
New Online US Casinos
5.0 rating
Get $1,000 Deposit Match Bonus + $25 Free Play
4.8 rating
$1,000 Deposit Match Bonus + 200 Free Spins
4.5 rating
Get $1,000 'Play It Again' Bonus + $100 Site Credit
4.3 rating
Get a $1,000 Deposit Match Bonus
Epic Free Bet & No Deposit Bonus Offers
BetMGM Casino Michigan Free Bet
BetMGM Casino Michigan Free Bet

Join BetMGM and get a $1000 Deposit Match + $25 Free.

Golden Nugget Michigan Free Bet
Golden Nugget Michigan Free Bet

Join Golden Nugget and get a $1000 Deposit Match.

BetRivers Casino Michigan Free Bet
BetRivers Casino Michigan Free Bet

400% Deposit Match! Get $200 Casino Credits When You Deposit $50.

DraftKings Casino Michigan Free Bet
DraftKings Casino Michigan Free Bet

Join DraftKings Casino and get a $2000 Deposit Match + $50 Free.

Betting Jobs & Gambling Employment