February 22, 2024Lauren

It's been a record-breaking week for US gambling as:

- The American Gaming Association announces the third year of consecutive growth as total revenue figures for 2023 roll in.
- The DOI settles new regulations, adding clarity and allowing for gaming off reservation land
- Caesars acquires WynnBet MI
- The NJDGE announces total gaming revenue is up 28% in January and drops misconduct case against Evolution
- Evolution and Caesars strike a deal to collaborate on new live dealer studios
- And our slot game of the week is the trending 4 Fantastic Fish from 4ThePlayer

Get stuck in and read all about it!

AGA: Records Third Year of Growth for US Gambling Market

The US commercial gaming market hit new records in 2023, recording a total of $66.5 billion (bn) and contributing an all-time high of $14.4bn in taxes (up 9.7% on 2022). The figures cement what most of the industry knows: it was a knock-out year for US gambling.

Year on year (YoY), the figures were up 10% on 2022's $60.5bn. The biggest quarter was the fourth, which accounted for $17.4bn of revenue, underpinned by December's performance, which rounded things off with an impressive $6.bn in revenue, the highest-grossing month recorded.

Here's how each sector contributed:

  • Traditional Casinos: Land-based slots and tables accounted for $49.4bn, up 3.3 YoY.
  • Sports Betting: Sports revenue accounted for $10.9bn, up 44.5% YoY. The growth was accounted for due to maturing markets and the launch of legal betting in Massachusetts and Ohio.
  • iGaming: Online casinos contributed $6.2bn, showing a 22.9% uptick YoY, generated from just six iGaming states.

AGA President and CEO Bill Miller commented, "From the traditional casino experience to online options, American adults' demand for gaming is at an all-time high…Sustaining our momentum will take unified industry efforts around combating pernicious illegal operators and growing responsible gambling efforts in tandem with the growth of the legal market—both of which the AGA is committed to lead on throughout 2024."

Revenue isn't the only metric that's been growing in the USA, so have rates of problem gambling, which garners much less attention. Hopefully, with renewed tax revenues, the benefiting states will double down their support and education systems for gamblers, helping US gambling markets to grow sustainably.

Tribal Gaming: DOI Announces New Regulations to Allowing Gaming Off Reservation Land

The Department of the Interior has announced updated federal regulations that increase the "clarity and transparency" of Indian gaming compacts, making way for states to agree to compacts that allow for internet gaming outside of reservation land.

The new regulations (set to come into effect on March 22nd) result from proposed rule changes brought by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which sought to clarify how the DOI reviews "Class III Tribal-State Gaming Compacts". 

This change delivers clarity for the first time on whether tribal gaming sovereignty covers online gaming in cases where servers are located on tribal lands but the product is offered outside of reservation grounds. It confirms this is possible (as in Florida) if state compacts are agreed upon. 

The new regulations are a huge move forward for America's gaming tribes. Currently, tribal sovereignty extends to Class I and II but not Class III (full casino gaming). Tribes wishing to offer Class III gaming must first negotiate a state compact, which is then approved by the DOI. Before this update, it wasn't clear how the DOI approved or disapproved a compact and what factors they considered. 

At this time, there are 250 federally recognized tribes operating 519 tribal casinos or other gaming facilities in 29 US states. Tribal gaming revenue is a critical source of income on reservation land as it is used to drive economic growth and fund education, health, and other development projects.

Research has recorded that in locations where a tribal casino has been open for at least four years, the positive economic and social impacts include:

  • Young adults moving back to reservations, fueling an 11.5 percent population increase
  • Adult employment increased by 26 percent
  • There is a 14 percent decline in the number of working poor
  • And a reduction in mortality rates

Caesars Acquires WynnBet MI 

Last week, we covered news of the sale of Wynn Interactive's New York license sale to Penn Interactive and the closure of its Massachusetts platform. This week, it's Michigan's turn, as the company has made public the sale of its last online presence, WynnBet MI, to Caesars Interactive.

Caesars is entering Michigan for the first time, partnering with Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Matt Sunderland, SVP & Chief iGaming Officer for Caesars Entertainment, said, "As we continue to grow our iGaming franchise, the assumption of WynnBet's iGaming operations in Michigan allows us to tap into a significant market and customer base, providing a crucial step forward in growing our digital products and offering players more ways to play. We are honored to work with the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and look forward to growing with them in Michigan." 

NJDGE Announces Total Gaming Revenue Up 28% and Drops Evolution Case 

It's a double headline from New Jersey this week, as the Division of Gaming Enforcement has announced that iGaming revenue for January has smashed previous records and that it is dropping its misconduct casino against Evolution Gaming.

Finances first: Total gambling revenue for January reached $559.1m, a 28% increase from January 2022. Land-based venues contributed the lion's share at $205m, down 3.1% YoY, while iGaming generated $183.3m, up 19.9%. Lastly, sports betting created a record of $170.8m, up by a jaw-dropping 136.1%. What a fantastic and record-breaking way for New Jersey bettors and operators to start the year!

Turning to Evolution Gaming: the NJDGE has dropped a misconduct case against the live games provider that dates back to November 2021 and alleged that the company's products were available in multiple countries where US trade sanctions existed (including Iran, Syria, and Sudan). 

Evolution fiercely denied the claims, saying they were an attempt to discredit the business, which now seems likely as more than two years on and after financial and reputational damage has been incurred, the NJ regulator has concluded its investigation, finding no fault. 

Concluding the matter, an official statement from Evolution Gaming states, "The NJDGE found no evidence that Evolution sanctioned, promoted, permitted, or otherwise materially benefitted from its content offered by operators in any market that the NJDGE considers a prohibited jurisdiction".

Evolution and Caesars Collaborate to Meet Live Dealer Demand

The end of this ongoing investigation isn't the only reason Evolution Gaming has to celebrate this week, as the company has also signed a new strategic partnership with Caesars Digital throughout North America. The deal will see Evolution and Caesars work together to open a series of dedicated live dealer studios across multiple US states, including one in Caesars NJ Tropicana Casino (Evolution's third Atlantic City location). Evolution and Caesars will also collaborate to launch branded studio spaces within Evolution's Pennsylvania and Michigan studios.

Game of the Week: 4 Fantastic Fish, 4ThePlayer, RTP: 96%

This week, we’re talking about a slot game topping the US charts from one of our favorite game developers, 4ThePlayer. It’s a fishy number, set on 6x4 reels with 4,096 ways to win, jackpot prizes, and a substantial max potential prize haul of 15,000x the bet.

The action starts with line wins paying for 2+ matching symbols from left to right. As well as premium and lower paying symbols, there’s a Fishing Boat Wild, which subs for other symbols in line wins.

Fish Ways Cash Prizes and Giant Squid Feature

Fish Symbols fall in different sizes, with varying amounts of cash on the symbol. These pay when you land a winning combo of matching fish sizes. Linked to the cash Fish is the Giant Squid Feature, which is randomly triggered and sees a squid’s tentacles drop onto the reels and rearrange the Fish Symbols for a guaranteed payout.

Big Game Fish

Jackpot symbols, the Big Fish, can only land on reel 6. If the Big Fish is used in a regular Fish winning line, you’ll win the jackpot on the symbol - Big (100x), Super (500x), Mega (2,000x), and Ultra (10,000x).

4 Fantastic Fish Slot Gameplay

Fishing Re-Spins

The last feature is the bonus round and its Re-Spins, which you can trigger by getting 3+ Marlin Bonus Symbols on the reels. You’ll start with 3 Re-Spins, and only the triggering reels are active (you can unlock the rest by getting additional Bonus Symbols). 

During the round, only Fish Cash Symbols or blanks land. The Fish Symbols are sticky, and each new one resets your total to 3 spins. When you fill a reel with cash symbols, a shark will appear, clearing the reel and multiplying everything by 2x.

This slot packs a punch with loads of new features, meaning the gameplay might feel a little unfamiliar at first, but don’t worry; it takes all but a couple of spins to get the hang of things! Ready to play? Then set your bets from $0.10 to $80 a spin at these US Yggdrasil and 4ThePlayers Casinos!

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