Much to the chagrin of legal online casino advocates in the United States, the legalization of online gambling has never been an important issue for the state legislatures of our southern neighbors.
Here in Canada, we have long enjoyed the benefits and convenience of online casinos. However, in the United States it still seems some way before the majority of the States in the Union will adopt at least some rudimentary level of online gaming. It could be that the legislative momentum that the US Supreme Court lifting the Federal ban on sports betting in May 2018 may carry over to assist in providing an environment for online gaming to follow suit. However, it’s not quite there just yet and why is that case?
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States with Legalized Online Casinos
Even after the three states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Nevada passed legislation in 2013 to legalize online casinos in those states, other state legislatures have either ignored or merely harmlessly flirted with the idea of online gambling.
In the legislative environment of 2013, along came daily fantasy sports (DFS). Legalization of online casino gambling became a ‘too difficult’ afterthought that was effectively shunted to the backburner, once DFS appeared on the various states’ legislative radar.
A simpler creature to pass through state legislatures than the seeming ‘bogey’ of online casinos, DFS provided the states with an easier opportunity to get through their various state planning committee meetings than online casino legalisation. It’s just a theory, but maybe our southern neighbours in the United States are little conservative and perhaps its merely the ‘casino’ in the phrase ‘online casino’ that spooks them out. A greater understanding of what an online casino is maybe required for the members of the majority of U.S. State legislators. However, I digress.
Sports Betting Legal in the USA – What now for Online Casinos?
With the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing sports betting and handling control of sports gaming back to the states to decide on individually, it might be possible to anticipate that with the onset of the legal sports betting era, online casino games can now get a seat at the legislation table. However, for now, those are pure pipe dreams.
DFS and sports betting have become the state legislative darlings over the past few years so much so that they displaced online gambling on the agenda of most states.
Many states saw the writing on the wall and read the coffee beans correctly in predicting the U.S. Supreme Court overruling the ban of sports betting. During the last 24 months, the subject of legalized sports betting has been raised in no fewer than 22 states. Moreover, in that time frame, 6 states have passed legislation legalizing at least sports betting of some form in different degrees. Legislation is pending in some states and progressing through to the state senate sub-committee stage in others.
Actually, when it comes to DFS, it’s simpler to count the states that haven’t touched on the topic in their state legislatures. DFS legalization has been raised in 41 statehouses since 2016, with at least 18 states passing DFS legislation in that time frame.
However, for whatever reason, online casinos or online gambling in general can still barely get a mention in the meantime.
Since 2016, only 11 states have considered some form of online gambling legislation, and one lone state, Pennsylvania, has passed a bill on the topic.
Basically, states are simply ignoring online gambling as an issue, However, when you ask the inevitable ‘Why?’, that’s when things get a lot more interesting.
Online Casinos Boom in New Jersey
Online gaming has been present in the US since 2013, and particularly in New Jersey, it’s been an outstanding success, and can be seen to be the key element in Atlantic City’s turnaround in putting itself back on the gaming map.
In 2018, five years on, online gambling is generating nearly USD $25 million (CAD $ 32.55 million) per month for the New Jersey operators, and it has been a key customer introduction and retention tool for Atlantic City’s land-based casinos.
However, despite its success, online casinos continue to be one of the most misunderstood and maligned sectors of the gaming industry. As previously mentioned, online casino proponents may need to run a public education awareness program in order to have the message filter through to legislators from the general public by osmosis.
The conversation and the message of online casinos appears stalled in most U.S. States. Instead of moving the conversation forward and focusing on building on the positive experiences and overwhelming economic success stories of Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada, it feels like the same old conservative ground of opponents to online casinos is being re-tread when the conversation begins.
Unfortunately, online gaming opponents have been extremely good and extremely effective in what they have been doing. Those disruptive efforts – including attempting to introduce a federal bill that would prohibit online gambling nationwide to a reversal of the 2011 Department of Justice opinion that provided the online gaming with its first nationwide green light — haven’t entirely wound back the legal online gambling market.
The opponent’s efforts have been quite effective at obscuring the reality of online gaming and providing mystifying ‘fake news’ style campaigns and disinformation out into the sphere of public discourse. In some cases, online gaming’s U.S. opponents have put in enough of a public scare campaign that in some states, lawmakers have halted their efforts, for now.
This unfortunate dynamic has even found its way into some U.S. industry gaming conferences, Change is even being thwarted at the highest levels of some gaming administrations.
Technology provides the future Online Casino Legalization Model
While sports betting panels move forward to discuss the different models available, setting the proper tax rates, and transmigrating illegal players to legal markets, online gaming panels are stuck discussing the same hypothetical technology issues they were a decade ago.
VPNs and geolocators work and we can now verify players’ ages effectively. The old reasons of why not to take up online casinos are now defunct thanks to new technology. In fact, most industry experts are now of the opinion that online gambling is far superior when it comes to age verification, anti-money-laundering, identifying problem gamblers and responsible gaming features.
Now technology itself has provided the answers to online casino legislators, it is now time for them to get onboard and treat the online gambling industry and its millions of potential players as the adults that they are.
Meanwhile – Good Luck & Great Gaming at an Online Casino in Canada!