Breaking Down the Midterm Elections’ Effect on Legal Gambling

CongressThe 2014 midterm elections closed the book on a number of unresolved gaming issues in several states, as voters in Massachusetts, Colorado, Rhode Island, and South Dakota all let their voices be heard at the ballot box.

However, the elections also ushered in some new questions, as governorships in three key states changed hands, while another state will likely have to wait at least four more years before iGaming talks commence after the reelection of their anti-online-gambling governor.


Massachusetts voters thoroughly rejected the calls to repeal the 2011 law that allowed for the building and licensing of three casinos and a single slots parlor in the Bay State.

Question 3 was voted down by a near 60/40 margin, and construction will continue on the Plainridge Casino (slots parlor) and the MGM Casino in Springfield and Wynn in Everett are already planning on breaking ground in the very near future.

Justine Griffin, a spokeswoman for the Committee to Protect Mass Jobs (the main lobbying group that opposed the repeal) released the following statement following the election night results:

“We are pleased that Massachusetts residents showed their continued strong support of casino gaming today. Today’s vote means that three of the world’s leading and most respected gaming companies will invest billions in Massachusetts starting immediately. By preserving the casino law, voters ensured that we will generate 10,000 new jobs and 6,500 construction jobs for Massachusetts residents and will bring $400 million in new annual revenue for Massachusetts. That money can be invested in our priorities here – in education, infrastructure, and public safety.”

At the same time casinos were getting the green light, iGaming also took a hit as Democrat Deb Goldberg (a supporter of casino repeal) was easily elected as the state’s Treasurer. Goldberg was not only an opponent of casinos (supporting the repeal), but has made anti-online gaming statements as well, something outgoing treasurer Steve Grossman championed, and Goldberg’s opponent Mike Heffernan had expressed interest in.


Amendment 68 in Colorado would have approved the addition of table games at the Araphoe Racetrack, as well as at two yet to be built tracks in Mesa and Pueblo Counties. The measure was overwhelmingly rejected by Colorado voters, losing by a 70/30 margin.

The measure was not polling well in the lead up to Tuesday’s election and was not expected to pass.

Rhode Island

For the second straight election cycle voters in Rhode Island voted against Newport Grand Casino adding table games, and for the second straight election the measure (Question 1 this time around) was approved state-wide but failed to pass locally.

Statewide the measure passed 56/44, but once again was unable to gain local support in Newport.

South Dakota

A proposed constitutional amendment in South Dakota would have allowed Deadwood Casinos to add roulette, craps and other games to their list of gambling options.

The measure met the approval of South Dakotans, garnering 56% of the vote, but because it was a constitutional amendment it needed a 60% supermajority to become law.

However, the 56% is enough to allow the state legislature to take up the measure in 2015.


A number of governorships changed hands on Tuesday night. Of particular interest to online gambling advocates will be the new Governor of Pennsylvania, Democrat Tom Wolf who defeated Republican incumbent Tom Corbett. In April, Wolf said he was opposed to online gambling and brick & mortar casino expansion in the Keystone State.

Three other new Republican governors to keep an eye on are Larry Hogan in Maryland, Bruce Rauner in Illinois, and Charlie Baker in Massachusetts, as all three states are among the leading contenders for online gambling expansion.

When it comes to Adelson’s anti-online-gambling allies at the state level, three were not on the ballot this election cycle, as Rick Perry is the outgoing Governor of Texas, and Mike Pence and Bobby Jindal weren’t up for reelection this year.

However, two Adelson allies were on the ballot and both were reelected: Rick Scott and Nikki Haley. Haley’s reelection in deep red South Carolina was expected (Haley prevailed by a 56/41 margin), while Scott managed to squeak out a 1% victory over former Florida Governor Charlie Crist in the Sunshine State.

Scott’s reelection in Florida likely means online gambling expansion talk in the legislature will be put on hold for the next four years.


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