The issue of online gambling in the United States has been an ongoing issue for quite some time now. With the recent overturn of PASPA, a number of US states have finally legalized sports betting, which is a great first step towards a broader regulation of online gambling. However, thus far, many states have been reluctant to take the extra step.
The matter of regulation certainly hasn’t been a pressing one for most states thus far. For many of them, regulated betting was more than enough to add extra funds to their budgets. Recent developments have, however, put them in a tough spot.
The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced the world at large and its effects are especially felt in the US. The sports betting segment is bound to suffer as almost all major leagues and competitions have been postponed and it’s hard to say when they can be expected to return. Naturally, without these events, the interest in betting has drastically declined.
iGaming Regulation Next Logical Step?
Unlike those states that are currently opposed to all forms of online gambling, the ones that have regulated sports betting are much closer to having a more encompassing regulation. With a proper push, they could easily add casino games and slots to the portfolio as well.
Currently, there are 12 such states. According to some research that’s been conducted recently, people in the US have been increasingly searching the term ‘online casino’. And, in the last couple of weeks, that number has finally surpassed the number of searches for ‘sports betting’.
From these results, it’s not hard to figure out what people want. With sporting events currently out of commission, many are looking to have their piece of gambling fun elsewhere. And, instead of forcing these people to reach out to illegal offshore operators, states could offer them a legal and safe alternative.
Serious Wakeup Call
Some experts believe this should serve as a wakeup call for the legislators. It is quite clear that profits from sports betting will continue to shrink in the upcoming months. Thus, they should be looking to expand things and regulating online gambling is definitely not far-fetched in the states where betting is already placed in a legal framework.
Looking at those states that have regulated this area, namely Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, it is clear there is a lot of money to be made from such legislation. In February 2020, combined gross gaming revenue (GGR) across these five states was $1.7 billion. Just the state of New Jersey generated in excess of $480 million.
Instead of sticking to declining markets, states should be looking for alternatives and examples such as New Jersey clearly show the potential of iGaming. These are serious amounts of money on a monthly basis that are not just being missed out on but are actually going to offshore operators.
Making Money & Protecting Players
While it may feel like this isn’t the right time to legalize online gambling, states wouldn’t be just doing it to get more cash to their coffers. It is becoming quite clear that this is what people want and if they can’t find it in their own states, they’ll simply reach out for alternative options.
There are still many online casinos that accept US players despite the ban. These operators constantly find new and clever way to take deposits and process withdrawals. Having no other options, US players get involved with these sites.
There are many dangers here. Primarily, with players flocking to unregulated casinos, their money is constantly at risk. There are really no guarantees that their winnings will be paid and it’s not uncommon at all for US-facing online casinos to shut down and disappear with the money without any real explanation.
On top of this, players are forced to share their sensitive information with companies that often have less than stellar reputation. This is a big risk on its own even for those who don’t play at high stakes and never risk big amounts of money.
With all this in mind, it seems like legislators in the US states where sports betting was given the green light should definitely get busy. When all things are considered, regulating online gambling and giving players legal options seems much better than the alternative.