Las Vegas, Nevada and Southport, Merseyside. You might think America’s most glitzy city has little in common with the small coastal town that lies in the shadow of Liverpool on England’s rugged North West coast. But both have seen iconic casinos close their doors, only to reappear, at least in a virtual way, in cyberspace.
For Southport, this is just the latest in a series of closures to be announced by Malaysia-based Genting Group across the UK, while in Vegas, it signals the return of an iconic name that disappeared from The Strip in 2006.
A Sin City legend
There are some who say it was The Stardust that earned Vegas its Sin City moniker. It was built by legendary 1920s bootlegger Tony Cornero, although he never saw the final creation, having dropped dead at the craps table just before construction was completed. The story goes that someone had put something in his drink. Over the subsequent decades, The Stardust was owned by mobsters and under constant scrutiny by the IRS, who suspected skimming.
The Stardust was the bad boy of the strip, but locals and visitors still loved it. It remained for almost 50 years, which is no mean feat in Vegas, before being demolished to make way for Gentings’ new Resorts World, which is due to open this summer. But more on Gentings in a moment.
Wire Act ruling could prompt an exodus to cyberspace
It’s been gone for 15 years, but the Stardust name still resonates among gamblers, and that’s why FanDuel is rebranding its online casino offering in the Stardust colors. It promises an experience full of classic Vegas nostalgia but incorporating the latest 2020s technology. FanDuel is licensed to operate in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and following the recent decision by the DoJ not to appeal the latest Wire Act ruling, this will probably not be the last such move from the world of bricks and mortar into cyberspace.
In brief, the ruling reaffirmed that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting activities conducted across state lines, and not to other forms of gambling. It is great news for online casino businesses, as it gives them the room to flex and grow. Mark Pillarski is an experienced online casino insider and the editor of CasinoSenpai. He believes we will see a huge boom now that smaller states can realistically join in and regulate an online gambling industry. However, he warned that the move will not happen overnight, and it could take some time for traditional players to make the move online.
Meanwhile, over the water
Make the move online is exactly what gamblers in Southport must do, and they have to do it now. While Genting is investing $4.5 billion on its new Vegas project, it is being forced to cut costs elsewhere. The Southport casino is the fourth UK Gentings facility to shut down in recent weeks, following closures in Bristol, Torquay and Margate.
Again, however, these casinos are not entirely gone, as part of them lives on in cyberspace. Gentings might be best-known for its land-based offering, but over the past year, registrations at its virtual casino, GentingBet, have increased dramatically. It’s another part of the same pattern, and one that seems set to continue for the foreseeable future.