Will Online Casinos Be Permitted in the USA?

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The status of online casino gambling in the United States is dependent upon legislation within individual states. Presently, 4 U.S. states regulate online gambling activities of some sort. These include New Jersey, Delaware, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. Moves are afoot in several other U.S. states to fast-track online gambling legislation so that legal age players can exercise their rights to gamble. It must be stated that the Feds have decided to leave it to individual states to determine whether they wish to pursue regulated sports gambling activity.

Currently, most online gambling sites that offer their services to U.S. players are based offshore. They are established in locations that are not subject to U.S. regulation, although online gambling may well be legal in those territories and jurisdictions. From a safety and security perspective, it is always better to play at an online casino that is licensed and regulated by your country’s legal framework. This ensures that there is recourse in the event of malfeasance, nonpayment, security breaches, or other issues related to the integrity of player accounts.

The Current State of Gambling Legislation in the United States. SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) recently overturned a Federal law from 1992 that effectively banned sports betting across the US. The case was brought to the attention of the Supreme Court by the state of New Jersey. The unprecedented ruling (6-3) in favor of regulated sports betting will have far-reaching implications on gambling activity across the U.S. According to Justice Samuel Alito, ‘…the legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make… Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own.’ Such is the gravity of this ruling that it sent shockwaves through the U.S. gambling market, and key industry players are now laying the foundations for what is expected to be a surge in gambling activity.

New Jersey and 17 other states across the nation were on the same side when they brought their case to the Supreme Court in Washington DC. Now, New Jersey will be able to offer sports betting activity at its legendary racetracks and state licensed casinos. Such is the excitement about this latest ruling, that the stock price of gambling companies spiked shortly thereafter. Many leading casino operators are now looking to enter the highly lucrative sports gambling arena.

Prior to the May ruling, Nevada had a virtual monopoly over sports betting activity. This was effectively enshrined in a Federal statute. Now, individual states will be able to chart their own course vis-à-vis sports betting and online gambling. The governor of New Jersey – Democrat Phil Murphy – was ecstatic about the SCOTUS ruling. However, it was Republican governor Chris Christie who got the proverbial ball rolling by bringing the issue to the forefront. Christie (GOP) got NJ to regulated online casino gaming. The decades-old ban by Congress does not hold water in the modern age. Today, the Internet of Things and the liberalization of online gambling activity around the world has facilitated a transition to a new medium where legal-age players should have the right to gamble if they so desire. New Jersey invoked the anti-commandeering doctrine in its defense for promoting legalized sports betting. In other words, the federal government had no say in determining what a state can do about sports betting.

The contentious decision by the Supreme Court justices was not celebrated by everyone. Cautious optimism was expressed by the Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, and the National Football League, however they all recognize that change is imminent and necessary. From the other side, regulated sports betting effectively puts the brakes on black-market sports betting activity.

Now that US-based casinos, sports books and other gambling entities can apply for licensing and regulation to offer sports betting activity, bad actors are put out of business. The black-market and gray-market activity that characterized this multibillion dollar a year industry will no longer enjoy the profitability and monopoly it exerted over the industry. The 1992 PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) deemed it unlawful for any states to offer sports betting activity except for Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware. The foundation of the law was designed to protect the integrity of sports, and to prevent sports from becoming gambling activities.

Will the Supreme Court Decision Allow Online Casinos to Operate Across the US? Given the gravity of the Supreme Court ruling, and the largely one-sided nature of that ruling (6-3) it seems fair to say that the Federal Government does not have authority to determine via Federal Law whether online gambling should be permitted on a state-by-state basis. Prior to the May ruling by the Supreme Court, it was generally accepted that online gambling was a no-go activity at Federal level. The 2006 UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) never prohibited online gambling activity; it simply prevented US banks and financial institutions from processing payments (deposits and withdrawals) to online gambling sites.

In a sense, the US government was cutting funding to prevent these online gaming sites from operating. US players were never targeted by federal law, although foreign-based operators that were offering their services to players in the US ultimately had to pay the piper. This was evident in the massive crackdown by the Department of Justice and the FBI on Black Friday. That day was a particularly devastating event for poker sites, and it took place on April 15, 2011. A 52-page indictment was handed down against major global poker sites and significant prison and punitive punishments were dished out. 11 defendants were named in the indictment.

Are land-based casino operators in the US against online gambling? Fast-forward to 2018. The online gambling landscape looks markedly different. Today, players are enjoying increasing liberalization of gambling activity across the board. This is taking place along the entire eastern shore, from Delaware down. Not everyone is excited about online gaming. Major Las Vegas casino moguls in the form of Steve Wynn, Sheldon Adelson, perhaps even erstwhile casino magnate Donald Trump himself would have been opposed to the liberalization of online gambling. The reasons for the highly politicized nature of online gambling legislation have little to do with the morality of gambling per se – it’s all about dollars and cents. Las Vegas and Atlantic City (in recent years) dominated the gambling scene in the United States. These two gambling enclaves accounted for an estimated $7.5 billion in annual revenue from gambling take. That figure may fluctuate somewhat over time, but it is significant enough to warrant an outcry from the big casino establishments.

One of the most notable opponents of online gambling legislation is Sheldon Adelson. He has put together a powerful lobbying group to make it illegal and maintain the illegality of online gambling. He has been lobbying the US DOJ for several years, but it appears that The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling is fighting an uphill battle. Adelson believes that online gambling will stop players from coming to his land-based casinos in Las Vegas and elsewhere. While there is some theoretical merit in that, the reality is different. The numbers indicate that online gambling supplements overall gambling take (GGR) and doesn’t detract from it. We have seen New Jersey’s gambling revenue boosted significantly with the inclusion of online gambling, with figures of $200 million + added to state coffers.

Much the same can be expected of other states that move to legalize online gambling activity within their own borders. Thanks to the powerful technology that is now available (geolocation tracking), there is no risk of players from non-regulated states playing at these online casinos. Rather than fight the inevitable, it makes sense to work alongside online gambling providers to create an enhanced product offering. New Jersey is the poster child of online casino gaming. Caesars Interactive Entertainment in tandem with 888 Holdings created an attractive online casino for NJ players. This internationally recognized brand (888 Holdings) has product offerings in regulated jurisdictions around the world. In the UK for instance, 888 recently released a one-of-a-kind sleek online casino that is the envy of competing brands.

Top-tier technology, quick-click functionality and HD audio-visuals feature prominently in the remodelled 888casino in the UK. Back in the U.S., CIE has enjoyed runaway success with assets valued at $14,981 (in Thousands) for 2017 September 30, up from $12,143 (in Thousands) for September 30, 2016. The net income for CIE New Jersey LLC was reported at $3,154 (in Thousands) for September 30, 2017, up from $1, 945 (in Thousands) from the same time in 2016. Similar trends can be expected when online sports betting and online casino gaming are regulated across the U.S.

What is Trump’s Position and Who Will Win this Bet? President Donald Trump is a proponent of gambling. That much is known from his huge gambling empire that spanned multiple casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Over the years, Trump has flip-flopped on the issue of online gambling, but he appears to be in favor of progressive legislation. It is undeniable that he’s a man of action and is unlikely to stand in the way of progress, even if it means backers like Sheldon Adelson and other conservative lawmakers don’t fall into lockstep behind him.

The momentum is on the public’s side. States now have the power to decide for themselves – via referendum – whether they wish to legalize online casinos, and the mood is unambiguous. It’s like the dominoes are starting to fall and things are looking positive for online casino liberalization across the U.S.

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