Interviews & Profiles

Is it possible that New York will have too much gambling?

A Q&A with Washington State University professor Khalil Philander, who has studied the industry for years.

Kahlil Philander

Kahlil Philander BCLC

Does New York risk diluting the gambling market by expanding? What are the potential effects on nearby casinos in different states?

From a New York perspective, what share is recapturing lost traffic from residents that might be going out of state? I think that’s where it becomes a little bit more tricky to model out what the effects will be, in terms of net-net, what’s the difference for the state? So I think it might be perhaps unreasonable to say that there’s no competitive pressures whatsoever in terms of cannibalization, but it might be more reasonable to take the perspective from a New York state point of view, we think that we’re going to capture as much as we lose, in terms of returning out-of-state traffic in state.

New York got into the sports betting business recently and is exploring opening up to online gambling beyond sportsbooks. Is there any chance that those forms of gambling will make it harder for these new casinos or existing gambling facilities in New York?

If you look at the population bases, it’s typically a very different demographic of users to get them online, or gambling sports versus those who go and spend a lot of time and money at a physical casino. It just looks like a different group of people. They’re also different experiences. So, you know, online gambling, or sports betting in particular, is much more of a commodity, it’s very transactional, whereas going to a facility is much more experiential. For the people that might be going in the evenings or weekends, or for the people that are there during the day, it’s much more identity-based.

Is there any way to quantify the amount of money that needs to be invested in programs for problem gambling or other issues that come along with gambling in order to nullify the negative effects of moving a casino into a town or neighborhood?

That’s still a bit of an open question. But there are some jurisdictions – I think there’s some evidence from Quebec and there’s some evidence from Singapore – which, you know, both had pretty good safety nets in terms of investing a lot in public health awareness programs and responsible gambling programs, giving easy access to treatment, where they, I think, within a period of four years, they were actually at rates that were lower than prior to the introduction of gambling. So that’s like a pretty high level of investment. If you look across Canada, which they have pretty consistent investment and problem gambling programs, it’s about 1% of gross revenue gets put into these types of programs. It’s a different model, right, because a lot of its government operated.