Momentum Grows for Online Gambling in the US

02 Apr 2012 | 23:01 Author: Seth Shafer

Momentum continues to grow in the US for legalized online gambling, with states such as California, Nevada, and New Jersey at the forefront of efforts to roll out legal online poker and casino sites for state residents.

Several US states are taking a hard look at legalizing online poker and casino sites for residents, with the primary lure being the possibility of propping up sagging state budgets with millions of dollars in new tax revenues.

In 2011 the District of Columbia became the first area to pass legislation that could allow it to offer online casino and poker sites to residents; delays and questions have plagued the initiative, however, with the possibility that the entire endeavor may be scrapped before ever seeing the light of day.

That hasn't stopped legislators in Ney Jersey, California, and Nevada from pursuing very similar legislation, with a recent ruling by the US Department of Justice clarifying the scope of the Wire Act to apply only to sportsbetting -- and not to other activites such as online poker or online lotto ticket sales -- adding more fuel to the fire. 

With many US states still struggling with high unemployment and dipping property values, a pitch for online gambling is much more receptive to voters' ears than in the past. The same greater receptivity to gambling in general has seen states such as Massachusetts vote to add brick-and-mortar casinos for the very first time, while several other states have dramatically expanded their gambling options.

As far as the potential money at stake from legalizing online gambling in the US, estimates vary widely depending on which side of the debate you fall on. Industry groups and pro-gambling lobbyists peg the potential tax revenues as high as $10 billion per year for the US gambling market, but studies that individual states have done have produced much smaller figures, with the state of Iowa releasing a study that shows it could collect around $5-$15 million a year while California projects it could make as much as $250 million.


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