The legality of gambling in the U.S. has always been complicated. For many gambling enthusiasts residing in the United States, one of the roots of confusion is the division of power between the States and Federal gambling laws. The laws surrounding gambling have gone through at least three waves of changes at the Federal level since the early 19th century. The lawmakers’ dilemma stemmed from their struggle in putting gambling and gaming activities in a box. No thanks to the blurry line between games of chances and skills. Games with elements of luck were more accepted than games of chances like slots and roulette. The advent of the increasingly popular online gambling adds to the complexities of the gambling laws.
The emergence of online gambling
Before the internet, gambling was a pastime of the upper class, which held an iron grip on its business, social, and political value. In 1869, Nevada became the first legalized gambling but was made wide open in 1931 for generating revenue due to the stock market crash, the Great Depression, and the cost of the Hoover Dam project. The scale and time of acceptance varied with States with only Hawaii and Utah having 100% prohibition, but there was never a large scale prohibition.
Online gambling took off to a great start in the early 1990s. It is not surprising that most laws, particularly state laws written before the internet, do not encompass new technology and trends. Unfortunately for American gamblers, the early booming legalized online gambling was dealt a blow by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) in 2016. The UIGEA was in addition to the already existing PASPA, which was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2018. That gives the states the power to legalize sports betting in their jurisdictions. Washington D.C and 20 states have exercised that power but not across state lines due to the Wire Act.
How is U.S. Gambling Market faring compared to others
Boosted by the relatively recent favorable laws and the pandemic, online sports betting is gaining more popularity across the over 20 states that legalized it. Like other parts of the world where gambling is legalized, operators are shifting their attention to online gambling. The global online market is expected to cross $66.7 billion at the end of 2023 and the global gambling market to nearly $565.4 billion by 2023.
Over 84 countries have legalized online gambling, to varying extents. Europe, led by the U.K., holds the largest portion of the global market shares, with countries such as the Netherlands and Germany on the verge of joining the party in 2023. New Zealand is one of those countries in almost similar situations to the United States. In addition to land-based gambling, the kiwis are allowed to bet on online lottery games and sports. Though the law officially prohibits operating an online casino in New Zealand, the residents stand no risk of prosecution staking on offshore casinos. Still, they must do their due diligence to find trustworthy NZ online casinos which have localized their offering to suit Kiwi’s preference in terms of game selection and especially payments. Most international operators process deposits and withdrawals in the main currencies such as USD and EUR but a true NZD Casino will take local New Zealand Dollars into consideration and allow local transactions without conversion fees or other additional cost. Tried and tested operators that fit all criteria can be found at real-money-casinos.co.nz.
The same flexibility applies to United States residents in theory, however financial institutions have much stricter rules in place for transactions to and from remote or offshore casinos, which make it more challenging for players to enjoy their online hobby at real money online casino websites.
Though highly fragmented, the U.S. Gambling market is gearing to join the European markets as one of the biggest forecasted to grow with a CAGR of 15.41% in the next 5 years. The New Jersey market is already benefiting from relaxed legislation and worth over USD 225 million a year.
United Kingdom – the pioneer of gambling regulation
The UK was once celebrated for the open-mindedness that has resulted in one of the most lucrative, thriving, and regulated online gambling industries in the European world. In 2003, the Culture Secretary of the UK changed British Gambling laws to allow internet gambling and formed the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) to ensure customer protections as the country made allowances to keep up with technological advances. In short, Online Gambling is legal in all parts of the UK under the watchful eye of the UKGC, which issues licenses and conducts research to ensure that the operators who service British clients are being fair, adhering to safety protocols, and following all gaming regulations as set out. Gambling operators that receive licenses from the UKGC have to prove they are not affiliated to any criminal acts, are providing open gaming opportunities, and can adhere to the strict laws prohibiting underage gambling. Operators who do not receive a certified license from the commission are not allowed to operate in the country and cannot market their sites to potential players in the UK. The Gambling Act is reviewed often to mitigate potential social harms and allows key shareholders an opportunity to air any concerns they might have regarding the industry and how operators are conducting business.
What the future holds for gambling in the U.S
After New Jersey’s Supreme Court ruling in 2018, up is the only direction for online gambling in America. The legal atmosphere in the United States is getting more receptive to iGaming companies. And signs are promising. More States will join the moving train in no distant future and make online gambling accessible to Americans with little restrictions. States offering legalized gambling only have a handful of online casino operators, with several waiting to go into mergers and take their share of the high potential market. At this juncture, online gambling’s growth seems unstoppable, with recent events and technology such as VR/AR, live gaming, mobile technology, cloud computing, blockchain, etc., playing pivotal roles. For the operators, gambling enthusiasts, and State Governments looking to increase their revenue, all signs point to an exciting future.