The Trump Effect on the Global Gambling Industry
YogoNet is South America’s leading magazine tracking the gambling industry. They interviewed me about the Trump Effect on Global gaming — an industry in which trillions of dollars change hands annual. Of course, every world polity and economic interest group is recalibrating itself to the post-Nov 8 reality. Yet Trump is a former Atlantic City tycoon. Does that mean he likely to favor the industry? Or how will this affect Vegas? And what of British Gaming?
The US Brick and Mortar Casino industry, as represented by its lobby the American Gaming Association, is one of the most powerful and least known lobbying outfits on K street. Does Trump’s election forward their particular interests? And if so how? Or might he take a broader view on gaming and favor a liberalization in the online sphere in which the US lags as woefully behind as it does in healthcare when compared to the rest of the OECD countries? I have long been a believer that Trump’s renowned zero-sum thinking about issues like trade, NATO, and immigration derives from his time in the gaming industry. Therefore we can expect that Trump will actually be the bane of online gaming, not only for reasons of his casino owning friends but from his genuinely and deeply held philosophical beliefs. Trump is more than an opportunist. He has real and discernible principles. And Zero-Sum and transactional thinking are nearest the top of the list.
The people that Trump’s election is clearly bad for are the partisans online gambling industry in the US. I am 100 percent sure that those who want fantasy football to expand, and those of us who would like to be able to bet on sport games like you can in Europe, they would have strongly preferred Clinton — or even better a Libertarian. There were societal reasons to believe this group might have been on the cusp of achieving its aims. But now the social movement which thinks “Oh, we are going to legalize marijuana, so why don’t we legalize gambling” was all of a sudden undercut. It seems to me that if Clinton would have come into office and this led to liberalization of a whole lot of social causes, we might be seeing liberalization on sports betting and online gambling, but now that is not going to happen.
It is not only the fact that the Trump family owned casino operations and still has some legacy ties to the industry. In fact, there has been much speculation that Trump International will return to the casino business. Much more crucially, his whole mindset of zero-sum, “If you win, I lose” means that he is not able to see the possible benefit to mainstream casino owners of egambling. I think that egambling goes against everything that he stands for. His opposition to free trade is very similar. There could be a way of framing the trade deals as helpful for industrial workers. But he genuinely thinks that NAFTA has been bad for manufacturing workers and that we need to get rid of it. Competition and open markets are a threat to Trump’s way of doing business….
In Nevada, one of the reasons why the industry is doing better now is not only that the US economy is rising, but also because they established themselves as a luxury destination. You have family trips and international clients, like the Chinese and the Russians that go there to sightsee and eat, as well as gamble.The American gambling industry understands how to make Vegas a destination. As a destination for Russians, Europeans, and the Chinese it is still doing well, and it even has certain advantages over Monte Carlo and London. Las Vegas is simply bigger and the buildings are more grand and it has glitz: people simply want to go to Las Vegas. That is not going to change. Even if Macau and soon Japan came to dwarf the Vegas Strip in gaming revenue, Vegas will still be a quintessential American tourist attraction and the Trump administration will want to promote that as part of its “Make America Great Again” agenda.
To read the whole interview click here.