What are the implications of relaxed gaming laws for American gambling enthusiasts?
July 11, 2018 9:58 AM
by David Cash
The dust has settled somewhat on the US Supreme Court’s dramatic decision to overturn the federal statute on prohibition of gambling, and it is time to take stock of just what it means to gambling enthusiasts across the USA.
The casino and sports betting industries were, of course, quick to greet the news as a victory for common sense and freedom. However, all it really means is that it is now down to each individual state to make its own mind up about whether it will welcome sportsbooks and casinos with open arms, or if it will adopt a “business as usual approach.”
In some cases, the answer is clear. Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Mississipi have already enacted legislation pertaining to sports betting as a result of the decision, and Delaware was the first state to get its new laws enacted. The rest, along with New Jersey, which set this whole wheel in motion, will launch their formal regulatory frameworks over the coming months. In states like Utah, on the other hand, it is reasonable to assume that the status quo will very much be maintained.
The most interesting question lies with those that are in the middle ground. California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois and Kansas have all made noises to indicate they are either planning to introduce some form of legalized betting, or at least they are thinking about it. The likes of Florida and Texas seem like obvious candidates to follow suit, although they have so far remained silent on the topic.
A national industry gearing up
Taking a look at how things are going state by state provides an interesting overview as far as the interests of individual gamblers are concerned. However, given that they operate predominantly online, the casino and sports betting companies would prefer not to have to worry about state lines.
The online casino sector is already a thriving one that is gearing up to get a whole lot bigger. And technology has found a way to take a national approach that will comply with state law. Most online casinos offer free slot games that are available to play for fun, even in states and jurisdictions where gambling is still prohibited.
The theory is simple – as long as no money is changing hands, it is simply a game like any other. There are slots that cover a multitude of themes, and the thing about them is that today, the bonus games mean that there is far more to it than the simple one armed bandits of years gone by.
The dominos are likely to tumble
Taking this approach provides a way for providers to take a national approach to marketing their sites, and it could contribute towards driving state legislature in the months to come. After all, if a player in, let’s say, Maryland tries the free games and discovers he enjoys them, it is a simple matter to pop across the state line into West Virginia, Delaware or Pennsylvania and play for money.
Maryland is actually an excellent example of the probable “domino effect” that is likely to come about. Legalization of sports betting has already been debated, and is due for another airing at the next legislative session. Both Maryland and Virginia seem likely to move towards legalization, and that has to be partly due to the states surrounding then having already taken action.
From there, where next? North Carolina? Kentucky? Both are playing their cards to their chest, which is an appropriate enough metaphor, but there is a feeling that it is a case of when, not if.
Preparing for the second British invasion
John and Ringo are both known to enjoy a casino night, so they might consider one last tour with the new laws in place, but this time, it is a different type of British invasion that is going to have a major impact on America.
The UK is very much considered the home of the online gambling sector, and the market is packed to bursting point with sites offering casino games, sports betting and both. It should come as little surprise that the UK industry is seeing the changing legislative environment in the UK as a golden opportunity to break into a market that could be immense.
It’s no secret that Americans love their sport, and while you might think of a British sports site as something that will be focused on games like cricket, tennis and the seemingly unending World Cup in Russia, the truth is quite different. The Brits have taken to American sports in their droves – the popularity of NFL is self-evident from the thousands that fill British stadia for every game that’s played there. But baseball, hockey and basketball are attracting a growing audience too – and crucially, they are also covered by all the major UK bookmakers.
Watch and wait
The UK is therefore studying the state decisions just as closely as anyone else, and their analysis makes for interesting reading. One research firm has predicted that over the next five years, 32 of America’s 50 states will have legalized gambling in some form. One thing is certain – things will never be the same again.
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