- Nevada only allows online poker.
- Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and West Virginia have legalized online gambling.
- Michigan recently launched its online gambling market.
- Online gambling may soon spread to more states.
- States seek the expansion of online gambling for extra revenues.
In the United States, the constitution allows each state to regulate commerce, and this power includes all forms of gambling, including poker, sports betting, lotteries, and casino games.
Gambling status of Various States in the US
Understanding online gambling in the US can be quite confusing, and legislation is continuously changing.
The sector was overseen by the Wire Act of 1961 for many years. This was a rather outdated law that lawmakers legislated to work together with anti-racketeering laws. The law did not apply to the digital gambling market. Regulated online casino gambling first emerged in 2011 when the Department of Justice (DoJ) passed legislation allowing states to legislate online gambling.
When the US Supreme Court overruled the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) in 2018, the federal ban on sports betting was revoked.
2020 brought with it a few surprises to gambling expansions. Even though Massachusetts was set to allow online gambling, the sportsbook-regulated state failed to get the bill in the November elections.
Virginia managed to get all three bills passed, allowing land-based casinos, sports betting, and online lottery sales. Nebraska finally got the permission to convert racetracks to “racinos” after 25 years of trying.
Except for Utah and Hawaii, where gambling is banned entirely, it is legal to gamble in 48 states of the US in some form or the other. There are also two states out of the 48 that are not even interested in widening their legal framework to allow land-based or online gambling. These are Idaho and Wisconsin.
Currently, online poker can be played in Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. West Virginia’s legal framework allows for online poker, but there are currently no operators showing an interest. This is because the state has a small population, and no interstate liquidity sharing is allowed.
Growth of the Online Gambling Industry
Nevada became the first state to legalize online poker in 2013, but other than esports, it has not expanded to other forms of gambling. Since then, the online gambling industry has grown at a snail’s pace. Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Delaware followed and were recently joined by Michigan late in January 2021.
The economic difficulties faced by the retail casinos since the start of the pandemic are many, whereas, across the board, online betting has grown considerably.
Online Gambling Offers Convenience
Retail casinos can be found almost everywhere but are often difficult to reach. There is a good mix of Indian, land-based, boat, and pari-mutuel casinos. Besides being difficult to reach, many people prefer the convenience of online gambling, including poker.
Depending on the online casinos allowed in each state, people also prefer them for their selection of games, and These also don’t have closing times, allowing people to play when it’s convenient. Online casinos also offer free demos to try and run other competitions.
States Likely to Soon Legalize Online Gambling
Many states have passed or put bills forward to legalize sports betting. However, legislation across the nation for online games of chance and skill is emerging at a slower pace.
Two states that are potentially the closest to offering online gaming, including poker, are Connecticut and Illinois. They are both set to pass their legislation within 2021, but it could take up to a year for these online casinos to launch.
One of the major driving forces for the rush by some states to get online casino legislation is increasing their revenue losses from land-based casinos and lotteries.
Indiana is one of the states likely to pass online casino legislation in 2021. The state passed sports betting in 2019, including mobile wagering within state lines.
Maryland is another state set to legalize online gambling this year. The state already has overwhelming support for sports betting, as the recent referendum there showed.
During the November 2020 election, Nebraska finally won a 25-year battle for land-based casinos. Legislators are still deciphering the language in the bill because of some grey areas, but online gambling is warmly supported.
There are three proposals on the table in Missouri, and the gambling effort there is set to benefit schools. It remains to be seen if Senator Caleb Rowden’s proposal, which relies heavily on mobile access, will win.
New York currently completely ignores online gambling, but despite opposition to online gambling by Governor Andrew Cuomo, two state senators are lobbying for it.
There are quite a few states to watch, but since one can never be sure about how lawmakers will vote, we can’t bet on the results.