If you’re a U.S. resident and your state hasn’t legalized online casinos yet, don’t hold your breath - market leaders confirmed that there are no new bills on the table and no jurisdiction to vote on regarding online gambling. States that have brought up legalization will likely have to wait until next year, as there’s nothing definitive gathering support in any state.
The legal online gambling industry is one of the most regulated in the United States, making it difficult for states to pass adequate legislation that covers all of their bases, including safety, protections for Indigenous land-based casinos, anti-money laundering protections, programs to battle addiction, advertising issues, and prevent competition for state-based lotteries. Online casinos are only legal in six states, while 33 allow sports betting.
This time, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers voiced their concerns over legalized gambling. In sports betting, fans can go months or weeks between events to bet on. On the other hand, legislators were concerned that every individual’s cell phone could turn into a slot machine.
In New York, a bill that would’ve legalized gambling was put on the table in 2022 but wasn’t voted on. New York was one of six states with legislation on the table that the house and state senate won’t vote on - and this year isn’t the year either. Sen. Joe Addabbo expressed his concern, saying, “it doesn’t look good” when Governor Kathy Hochu’s 2024 budget didn’t include anything for iGaming.
Like many other proponents of online casinos, Addabbo has been relying on the idea that “it’s not a matter of ‘if,’ it’s a matter of ‘when’” legalization finally occurs. However, opposing parties have managed to put off these bills once again, damaging the online casino industries’ hopes of snagging more American customers. In the U.K. and parts of India, Africa, and South America, the legalized gaming industry is growing and becoming a significant part of some countries' GDPs.
While some legislators worry about the damaging effects of allowing widespread online gambling, others argue that failure to legalize it will drive illegal activities and potentially leave consumers at risk. In a report from the American Gaming Association (AGA) in November 2022, they estimate that $510.9 billion is spent on the illegal online gambling industry every year in the U.S.
States are Losing Potential Tax Money A parallel with the UK laws as one of the most liberal systems for online gambling shows conflicting outcomes. Despite many options for local online activities, many UK players turn to offshore sites out of the UK jurisdiction. Their laws don't forbid this, but it doesn't help the fact that plenty of tax revenues are leaving the country. Some of these online casinos outside the UK can present a particular threat, but there are many offshore licensed casinos not on GamStopthat are considered safe, according to TheNewsMinute. These sites see millions of customers worldwide daily. Like other “banned” industries, the government missed out on over $13 billion in tax revenue as users flocked to illegal and unregistered casino sites. The same AGA report found that about 49% of all Americans had to resort to these sites because they live in states that have not legalized online casinos.
The AGA also found from data in other countries that iGaming is a form of alternate revenue that works side-by-side with brick-and-mortar casinos, which still see plenty of visitors in states where they are legal. Losing casino revenue and state-lottery revenue is a fear for state politicians that rely on the taxes from this industry to fund schools, public transportation, and addiction programs.