Odds Highly Favorable For New Online Gambling Laws In The US

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While states such as California are considering poker-only bills, New Jersey joins Washington D.C. with plans to offer online casino games as well as internet poker. (Photo: Chris Withers)
While states such as California are considering poker-only bills, New Jersey joins Washington D.C. with plans to offer online casino games as well as internet poker. (Photo: Chris Withers)

BUSINESS

  • Nevada first US state to adopt a regulated intrastate online poker system
  • On-line gambling in most states widespread but rarely enforced despite income potential
  • Other states may look to Nevada as the “gold standard” for implementing legal online gambling

The state of Nevada is the grandfather of legalized gambling in the US, and is now planning to once again become the first in the nation to adopt a regulated intrastate online poker system starting early 2012.

“It’s historic. It’s indicative of the state’s leadership role in the gaming industry,” says Vegasinc.com.

This raises the question of whether other states will follow Nevada’s example. “Washington D.C. has already passed legislation to allow legal online casino and poker sites for residents to play and other states aren't far behind,” writes CasinoGuide.

While states such as California are considering poker-only bills, New Jersey joins Washington D.C. with plans to offer online casino games as well as internet poker, the site says.

While Nevadans can legally place sports bets remotely, online gambling in most other states is illegal because of a 2006 federal law. However, it is widespread in most states.

No one also knows how much revenue states could collect if it were legal, but the American Gaming Association figures that in 2010 internet gambling revenue from US bettors exceeded $4 billion. It estimates that states could collect up to $2 billion in tax revenue if online poker was legal.

Online Gambling Around For 15 Years

“People have been gambling online for 15 years,” says David G. Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada. He terms online play “the industry’s future.”

He says it is only a matter of time before the federal government legalizes internet gaming.

At least two states are looking to allow football fans to go straight from a stadium to a slot machine next door if plans to launch meg-gambling resorts work out.

“The Massachusetts and Florida schemes are part of a nationwide gambling expansion that has affected more than a dozen states in the last three years. But states aren’t just looking to add more casinos and slots. Many of them are eyeing the billions of dollars that Americans bet online illegally every year,” writes Stateline.org.

Since Nevada legalized casino gambling in 1931, 21 states have followed suit. Most of these joined the movement in recent years, between 1989 and 2008.

Nevada remains the oldest commercial casino jurisdiction in the US but it is also the largest by far, with 256 casinos producing gross gaming revenue of $10.4 billion last year says the American Gaming Association.

Colorado has the second most casinos with 37, while New Jersey had the second-highest gross gaming revenue at $3.56 billion in 2010, according to the American Gaming Association.

So will other states follow the example of the “gold standard” state?

“If you talk to government officials around the world, they still look to Nevada for guidance,” answers attorney Dennis Neilander, former chairman of the state Gaming Control Board. Nevada is invariably the first stop for states and countries considering the legalization of gambling. Its guidance is also sought for lawmakers and others considering changes in how the industry is regulated.

So if you combine the issue of states strapped for money and the fact that online gambling is not going away but is expanding, the odds are very high that more legislation is on the way. Bet on it.

Key Statistics - Online Gambling Market

  • Last year, internet gambling revenue from US bettors exceeded $4 billion with states able to collect up to $2 billion in taxes if online poker was legal, according to the American Gaming Association.
  • Nevada remains the oldest commercial casino jurisdiction in the US, but it is also the largest by far with 256 casinos producing gross gaming revenue of $10.4 billion last year, says the American Gaming Association.
  • The world online gambling industry had a value of close to $30 billion in 2010, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 14% between 2006 and 2010. (source: MarketLine)
  • The Sports Betting segment was the market's most lucrative last year, with total gross gaming wins of over $12 billion, equivalent to 41% of the market's overall value. (source: MarketLine)

By David Wilkening for
David Wilkening is a former newspaperman who worked in Chicago, Detroit and Orlando. He now specializes in travel and real-estate business writing.

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