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Online casinos in the US have boomed during recent years. Projections for the next few years are strong, and the coronavirus pandemic has only served to benefit online casinos as their land-based counterparts close their doors.
The global online gambling market is currently valued at $46 billion USD. It’s projected to reach $94 billion USD by the year 2024. If these targets are achieved, it would represent a doubling in value of the online gambling market in just five years.
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Part of the reason is a growing number of jurisdictions around the world are beginning to legalize online gambling. Furthermore, technology has improved to such an extent that online casinos are almost unrecognizable, when compared to a decade ago.
The US as a whole are, in large part, responsible for much of the growth in online gambling.
The Legal Online Gambling Situation in the US
In most countries, online gambling is either legal or illegal. In the US, the situation is murky, and that’s largely responsible for holding back growth in this huge market over the last couple of decades.
Contrary to popular belief, all citizens of the US are able to play online casino games. There is no law that explicitly states this is illegal. However, the Federal government leaves it up to individual states to make laws to regulate online gambling.
Currently, the only states where online casino websites can be hosted are Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
This is why so many Americans have taken to gambling with offshore casinos. There’s nothing illegal about this, but it does mean the US misses out on valuable gaming revenue.
How Well is the US Doing in Revenue?
It’s estimated that the online gambling market in the US will be worth $4 billion USD. Compared to the overall value of the online gambling industry, this is a paltry sum and represents a huge amount of potential if more US states were to loosen current restrictions.
Other states have already considered changing the way they approach online gambling. Many states are either in the process of legalizing online gambling, whereas others are seeing what happens in other states before they make a move.
The success of gambling in New Jersey, in particular, has served as an example of what can happen when good governance, the wishes of the general public, and laxer online gambling laws are implemented.
The Missed Opportunity in Sports Betting
Sports betting is not placed in the same category as online casinos. US law states that bets may only made in specific locations, with state lotteries being a notable exception.
8 in 10 Americans support legal sports betting, yet there are only six states that permit it. Curiously, Pennsylvania allows online casinos but not sports betting, whereas states like West Virginia allow sports betting but not online casinos to be hosted within their borders.
Critics say the situation is ridiculous as the US is potentially missing out on $41.2 billion in annual revenues. It’s estimated by the American Gaming Association that Americans are wagering $150 billion illegally every year.
Yet Americans are neither pursued nor prosecuted for illegal sports betting. Authorities have a policy of going after the operators instead. However, with operators typically based offshore and illegal online sports betting widely available, the US is senselessly losing out on billions of dollars.
What Does the Future Hold?
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) was repealed in 2018, which was responsible for banning sports betting across the nation. Now individual states have full control over online and offline sports betting.
This has finally opened the door for US citizens to fully take advantage of sports betting at home. Although professional sports leagues maintain it could open the door for match-fixing, evidence from other countries is completely contradictory.
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Nevertheless, in the realms of online casinos and online sports betting the future is bright. Gamblers should expect significant changes to both of these industries in the coming years.
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Proponents of online gambling maintain that should more states become open to allowing online casinos and sportsbooks to operate in their jurisdictions, national coverage could be a viable goal in the near future.