Many professionals are speculating that online betting represents the future of gambling in the United States, but others are not so sure. The issue has left the casino industry sharply divided. Strong advocates have come forward for both the legalization and banning of online gambling. The division has given way to heavy lobbying both at Washington, D.C. and among state capitals across the nation in the form of competing coalitions.
As we watch the dispute unfold, we are left wondering: what is the future outlook of Internet Gambling in the US?
US citizens looking to gamble from home have had it rough over the past few years as a result of online wagering laws. In 2011, the federal government took a firm stance against Internet Gambling. However, this was shortly followed by a U.S. Justice Department ruling that allowed online gambling as long as it is legal at the state level.
Under the umbrella of this ruling, states have begun to take action of their own. At least some form of online gambling is currently legal in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware. Gambling Compliance, a group that follows worldwide gambling legislation, reports that at least ten other US states are also contemplating legalizing internet gambling.
At the federal level, a congressional online gambling bill surfaced in 2012, but it ultimately succumbed to internal strife. More recently, Congress has introduced at least three new gambling-related bills. Two of these were brought forth in the summer of 2013 and involve legalizing some form of Internet Gambling nationwide. The following fall, Washington Democrat Rep. Jim McDermott presented a bill that would place a tax on federally sanctioned online betting.
While we can't be sure where the US gambling industry will go from here, we can certainly speculate. Morgan Stanley expects that Internet Gambling in the United States will yield as much revenue as Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos combined by 2020. Looking at the results of Internet involvement in other markets, this indeed seems feasible.
The push for legalized online gambling has left established brick-and-mortar casinos feeling a bit uneasy. While the Internet's convenience has much to offer the consumer, casinos have much to lose. Furthermore, there is a concern of crime re-infiltrating the industry after a hard-fought battle to eliminate it in the '80s and '90s. Needless to say, the road to cyber wagering has been met with opposition.
Such opposition has come from the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling. This organization has begun a massive campaign to prevent online betting by highlighting the dangers posed if it is legalized. An advertisement has been launched expressing a concern that terrorists and criminals may use internet gambling to launder money. The group is financially backed by Sheldon Adelson, current CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp.
Advocates have fought back, though. The Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection was formed in direct response to the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling. This subsequent coalition is expected to launch a counter-campaign at the federal level. Obviously there is a concern that the anonymity of online gambling may invite corruption, and Geoff Freeman, President of the American Gaming Association, has stated that the Coalition will encourage Congress to focus on safeguarding minors, indentifying money launderers, and eradicating a perilous black market.
As with any current event, the past speaks volumes, and we have certainly been trending toward the nationwide legalization of Internet Gambling. At the very least, the federal government will remain undecided on the issue with the door wide open for legislation at the state level. A few states have already made online gambling legal in one form or another. Provided no issues arise unexpectedly in those states, many others appear to be in the process of following suit.
Past legal and societal advances have demonstrated that precedent quickly paves the way for future progression. While opposition is inevitable anytime major players stand to lose money, the precedent has been set. Legal online gambling in the US seems all but certain.