The Future of Internet Gambling in America

A recent article in the Berkeley Technology Journal asks the question; will online gambling spread outside of Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey?” The simplest answer is that it is certain that online gambling will spread beyond these states. Last year American gamblers spent over $2 billion dollars playing at offshore websites. The success of online gambling in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware will determine whether other states will legalize online gambling. Some states will probably wait and see how online gambling works out for the three states. Other states may not wait especially if they are in financial trouble.

Five states are considering some sort of internet gambling legislation. Some states may follow Nevada’s lead and restrict online gambling to poker while others will allow other forms of gambling such as internet bingo, roulette, blackjack and other casino and table games. The United States is still recovering from the financial crisis that began in 2008 and legislators are looking for new revenue streams. Outside of the US online gambling is a $35 billion dollar a year industry in the 85 countries where it is legal. Very few states are opposed to gambling and 43 states operate lotteries.

The promise of additional tax revenues has prompted several members of congress to support bills legalizing online poker. Most of the proposed federal bills would restrict online gambling to poker but one bill currently under consideration would allow most forms of gambling. Some experts estimate that if online gambling were legalized at the federal level it would bring in $2 billion annually in additional tax revenues. It has been estimated that legalization would create 10,000 new jobs. Proponents are quick to point out the obvious benefits of legalization. Opponents of legalization are fighting back. They say the job and revenue estimates are inflated. They have also voiced concerns about gambling addiction and underage gambling. Many opponents cite moral and religious reasons for their opposition.

Despite the opposition most believe that legalization will take place. Legal gambling is available to most Americans at tribal and private casinos throughout the United States. Americans spend billions every year and the government receives no revenues. There is widespread support for legal online gambling and many argue that Americans should be free to spend their money as they wish. In the UK and Europe there have been very few problems associated with online gambling and the European model could easily serve as a template for the nascent online gaming industry in the US.