The future of gambling in the United States

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The gambling regulations in the US have recently changed, becoming more permissive. However, there are still strict rules in place and these vary greatly between states, so understanding what is allowed and what is not before going to play a real-money game or make a wager is essential to stay on the right side of the law.

USA legislations

Gambling on sports has been illegal in most areas of the United States since 1992. However, changes to legislation that came into force in May 2018 have allowed each state to set its own sportsbook regulations, meaning gambling is now allowed in many US states. Casino gambling is often restricted to specific areas, with states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania legalising online sports betting and casinos in their state. US citizens are allowed to access a casino online but only if it is based offshore – the sites must not be located or operated in the US as this is illegal. Online casino operators can be prosecuted for taking bets from people in the US on certain types of games and events both online and over the telephone if the state laws do not allow it.

New Jersey success

While there are still many restrictions, some states have begun to fully embrace gambling in light of the newly relaxed laws surrounding sportsbooks and online real-money gaming. New Jersey spent the whole of summer riding high after opening sportsbooks and making online casino gambling widely accessible. For three months from June to September 2020, New Jersey took more revenue from online sportsbooks than Nevada, the gambling capital of the world, and in August beat its own record for revenue from online casino games, raking in $87,772,968 in a single month. New Jersey was one of the first states to implement legal sports betting as soon as it became allowable, beginning services in June 2020. While Nevada took over once more in terms of revenue in September 2020, sports fans in New Jersey remain keen on being able to wager on their favorite events.

Despite successes in New Jersey and other states, there are still many regions of the US where legislation around online gambling will be slow to change, if at all. While one study has forecast growth in the US online gambling market of around 11.5% per year between now and 2027, it does not look likely that online casinos will be universally embraced any time soon. For example, in Utah, anti-gambling legislation is written into the state constitution, so even with national laws allowing individual states to permit gambling, it seems highly unlikely that residents of Utah will be seeing sportsbooks or casinos either online or in city centres in the foreseeable future.

Economic impact

The long-term economic effects for the many areas of the US opening the doors to legalised gambling are likely to be positive. This has already been demonstrated by the States neighbours, Canada, who have more relaxed gambling regulations and citizens are able to access a casino online. Gambling in the country has had a positive impact on the economy with regards to job creations and taxes.

Gambling has been shown to increase aggregate demand for other services and products in areas of the world where it is already legal. Introducing a new gambling industry creates employment, both in the construction phase for brick and mortar establishments and in terms of operations, game development and customer service in both physical and online venues. An influx of tourists to any area results in more disposable income being spent on goods and services in that area, which naturally boosts the local economy. When more tourists start to visit an area, demand for hotels, restaurants, drinking establishments and retail outlets grows accordingly. Casinos and sportsbooks will also pay taxes, as will anyone who wins over a certain threshold, meaning government coffers are sustained.

Estimates from the American Gaming Association suggest that, prior to the legalisation of sports betting, Americans collectively wagered approximately $150 billion every year on sports illegally. If that money is instead directed into local economies and government coffers, not only will a large percentage of the population no longer be lawbreakers, but everyone will benefit financially. The new legislation does not automatically permit sports betting in any state but allows each state to make its own rules regarding gambling. As New Jersey has already shown, a legalised gambling industry can bring in many millions of dollars in a very short space of time. As other states begin to follow suit, the US economy could be seeing an unprecedented financial boost over the coming few years and more.

Story by Lucy Pickard


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