MD Casino CEO Warns Amazon Could Enter Gaming Space Through Online Casinos

Written By Adam Hensley on May 10, 2024
A picture of an Amazon building in Germany

Should Maryland legalize online casinos, one operator fears that a brand like Amazon could come in and dominate the market.

Speaking at the East Coast Gaming Congress in Atlantic City, NJ, recently, The Cordish Companies’ CEO David Cordish reiterated the gaming company’s stance against states legalizing online casinos.

“Any of you who are in bricks and mortar really want to compete with Amazon in gaming the rest of your life? You say, oh, Amazon, they wouldn’t go into gaming. Why wouldn’t they? If anyone would have told you a few years ago that Amazon was going to buy a supermarket chain called Whole Foods, would you believe them?

“They already have tens of millions of customers and everybody’s credit card, and if they want to put a blackjack game on it, it would take you two or three seconds to play and the transaction is over. You don’t have to leave your desk or your computer.”

Despite Operating Online Casinos, Cordish Opposes Them in Maryland

The Cordish Companies owns the Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland. The company, which does have an online casino presence, has advocated against Maryland online casinos.

In March, casino operators in Maryland appeared before the House Ways and Means Committee to either advocate for or against iGaming expansion.

At the hearing, Cordish Executive Vice President and General Counsel Mark Stewart spoke against Maryland legalizing online casinos.

“We genuinely believe iGaming is a bad deal for Maryland, our employees and our communities. There’s little dispute that iGaming will cause substantial job loss.”

It has sparked much debate over whether an iGaming industry would cannibalize brick-and-mortar jobs. For instance, one study by iDEA (iDevelopment and Economic Association) and Eilers & Krejcik Gaming found that online casinos actually help retail casinos. Six states with legal online casinos saw “an average quarterly revenue boost of +2.44%” to their land-based counterparts, according to the study.

Maryland state Sen. Ron Watson has pushed back as well. He has inferred that it’s hypocritical for The Cordish Companies to claim potential job loss in Maryland when the company was recently hiring for a number of different positions at its casino in Pennsylvania, a state with legal online casinos.

Amazon Hosts Online Social Casinos

Amazon does not currently offer online casino games, but the company does allow users to download a number of social casino games.

While players can’t win real money, digital chips are required to play the games. When users run out, they must purchase more to keep on playing.

A lawsuit was filed late last year against Amazon, claiming that the money “illegally” taken from these games should be returned to customers. The lawsuit argues that Amazon collected 30% from each digital chip players purchased.

There are currently similar lawsuits against Apple, Google, and Facebook. Amazon’s attorneys have said if the case is not thrown out because it lacks merit, any judgment should be put on hold until the lawsuits against the other companies play out.

It’s worth noting that Maryland allows sweepstakes and social casinos.

Could Amazon Secure a Maryland Online Casino License?

While it’s unlikely Amazon would pursue an online casino license if Maryland legalized iGaming, it is possible the company could buy an operator.

Lawmakers in Maryland seem to prefer linking iGaming licenses to existing retail casinos. If that happens, it would probably keep companies like Amazon from entering the iGaming industry in Maryland. It would have to first buy a brick-and-mortar casino.

It’s unclear where the lawsuit against Amazon will go. Social casinos are mostly legal throughout the country, with a few exceptions. If Amazon did decide to enter the online casino market, it would, indeed, probably dominate it.

Photo by AP Photo / Michael Sohn
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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist from Des Moines, Iowa, with experience covering online sports betting and gambling across Catena Media. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network. Hensley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 and spent his college career working for the Daily Iowan’s sports department, both as an editor and reporter.

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