When Foxwoods Resort and Casino first opened its doors in Connecticut more than 25 years ago, it represented a massive first step for the overall US casino industry. With gambling options in Connecticut, people did not have to choose between Las Vegas and Atlantic City when they wanted to play casino games, go shopping, or catch a show. Since then, the East Coast’s gambling scene has really evolved and is growing at seemingly every turn.
By most accounts, the Mashantucket Pequot Native American Tribe is to thank for starting a casino revolution that has now (almost) encompassed the East Coast.
During the 1980s and 1990s, anyone who wanted to gain the full casino experience (gambling, shows, shopping, etc.) had two choices: Atlantic City or Las Vegas. At that point in time, there simply were no other options when it came to resort casinos, as they have now become known as. Now, however, about 2/3s (40 states) of the United States have some sort of gambling options, and a growing number are able to boast full-scale resort casinos.
The Foxwoods location in Connecticut serves as the cornerstone for the modern US casino industry. After the agreement was made all the way back in the 1990s, other states quickly caught on and realized that hosting casinos was not a bad thing, and more often than not proved to be a very good thing from a financial perspective. Before you knew it, there were casinos in states some thought might never host gambling. Pennsylvania, Maryland, and even New York began entertaining the idea of legalized brick and mortar casinos and eventually turned those ideas into reality.
Erik Baslbaugh, VP of the American Gaming Association, commented on this by saying, “It’s really indicative that gaming has become the mainstream of American culture. It’s no longer this little island outpost of Las Vegas and Atlantic City.”
Prior to the late 1980s, it was not as though states did not see the potential for massive revenues brought in via gaming taxes, because they did. Rather, states resisted the allowance of casinos due to the exaggerated belief that legalizing casinos would be a morally compromising move. In much the same way that Marijuana has remained illegal, casinos remained illegal. Though many people saw no issue with casinos, they were looked at as one more vice that we, as a country, did not need. Add to that all the propaganda regarding the rise in crime and other illicit activity that was said to accompany casinos, and lawmakers simply were not going to risk their reputation to support casinos. Moreover, whenever casino legislation was proposed, it was often met with the classic, “we have better things to worry about” reply.
As time wore on, and as an increasing number of states faced mounting budgetary issues, casino legalization began to look a bit more appealing. Nowadays, the financial benefits of casinos are talked about first and foremost whenever a new casino is proposed. This is so because states like Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland have all seen millions upon millions of dollars in additional tax revenue created as a result of their state’s casino presence. While casinos alone may not solve a state’s financial troubles, we have learned, over time, that they tend to help more often than not.
You may look across the United States now and see a booming, growing casino industry, and as difficult as it is to believe, that is all a result of a move made by the state government of Connecticut more than 25 years ago.