Likely lost in all the sturm und drang that was the 2020 electoral season was just how successful gaming measures were at the polls this year.

Indeed, in casino circles, 2020 may very well go down as the year when passage of on-ballot gaming initiatives finally became, well, somewhat mundane. Measures looking to expand legalized wagering were on the ballot in many states, and a good number passed without much fuss—something which, most assuredly, is not usually the case.

These gaming industry “wins” include:

  • Passage of a casino referendum in Danville, Va., that clears the way for Caesars Entertainment to develop a gaming resort that will include a casino, 300-room hotel, conference center and entertainment venue, according to local reports. To say the least, officials from Caesars were pleased with this outcome. “Caesars Entertainment thanks the voters of Danville for their support of the referendum that will bring Caesars Virginia to Danville,” said Tom Reeg, chief executive officer for Caesars in a prepared statement. “We look forward to fulfilling the trust the voters have placed in us by bringing 1,300 good-paying jobs, tourism dollars and economic development to the City, and we are incredibly excited to begin construction.” 

    The resort will break ground next year with an eye towards a 2023 opening.
  • Joining Maryland in approving casino expansion initiatives were Colorado, where a measure to allow the communities of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek to either increase or eliminate bet limits was passed, and Nebraska, which OK’d the establishment of casinos at racetracks.
  • To the surprise of few, sports betting expansion was put to the voters in many states. Louisiana, Maryland and South Dakota all passed such measures, swelling the list of states that offer sports wagering to 25 states and the District of Columbia.

Cynics will claim this liberal approval of gaming expansion is mostly a one-off occurrence, brought on by the current COVID-19 crisis and the need for states to find additional tax revenue where they can. However, with 89 percent of adults now viewing gambling as an acceptable form of entertainment according to the American Gaming Association, maybe gaming growth initiatives have finally turned the corner to respectability.