Most of the U.S. now offers sports betting whereas it is only possible to gamble online in six states. Online gambling has yet to expand beyond a handful of states. At a casino conference in Atlantic City, legislators and industry executives expressed their surprise about this and had various explanations for why this is the case.
Where is internet gambling legal?
The states where internet gambling is legal are New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Connecticut, West Virginia, and Delaware. You can play online poker in Nevada but no other casino games. New York and Indiana could be the next states to legalize online gambling. In New York, there was a push to get online gambling legalized but it just hasn’t happened yet. It could be a massive market. State Senator in Indiana, Jon Ford, said the state didn’t succeed in legalizing internet gambling last year but there are plans to try again.
iGaming in New Jersey is legal and residents can freely join regulated online casinos and sportsbooks. They can download casino apps and play a variety of games from their mobile phones. The same applies in all of the other five states that allow online gambling.
The explosion of sports betting
In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of legalizing sports betting. Since then 31 states have approved legislation to legalize it. States like New Jersey and Illinois have gained more than $1 billion in sportsbook taxes. The tax revenue benefits states as they can use it for purposes like schooling, social services, and other projects.
The increasing annual sportsbook handle shows just how much the market is growing. Why is it that sports gambling is such an attractive option? Casinos usually offer better bonuses than sportsbooks. They offer much higher rewards if someone wins a progressive jackpot. It is almost impossible to put together a sports betting slip that will generate millions like can happen when spinning the reels.
With the legalization of sports betting in so many states, the expectation was that online gambling would expand in the same way. This is not what happened. The attendees at the conference in Atlantic City had various opinions about why the expansion of online gambling has been slow.
Fears that internet gambling could cannibalize brick-and-mortar casinos
As internet gambling brings in more than sports betting, the slow expansion is surprising. There is a fear in some states that a proliferation of online gaming would affect revenue at brick-and-mortar casinos. This argument doesn’t hold much weight because this hasn’t happened in the state of New Jersey. The gambling market size in New Jersey is extensive. Internet gambling in the state brought in $1.6 billion in 2022. The brick-and-mortar casinos in Atlantic City brought in almost $2.8 billion.
Does political affiliation play a role?
More than half of the U.S. is governed by state legislatures controlled by Republicans. They are less in favor of gambling at all, let alone its expansion. Even iGaming software providers are seeing that efforts to expand online gaming just aren’t happening at the rate they expected. States deal with the details of gambling regulations. State gambling commissions spell out all the rules for legal gambling and its forms within a state. This is why legal online gambling options vary by state.
In Texas, the GOP opposes the expansion of gambling, including legalized casino gambling. However, polls find that most Texans support legislation to let voters decide whether to legalize casinos. Texans evidently spend over $5 billion at casinos in the bordering states.
Who gets a piece of the pie?
Industry executives at the conference in Atlantic City agreed that it was all about revenue. Casino companies do not want to give a foothold to companies they view as a threat to their existence. There’s a fight over who gets growth in the casino industry. What has happened in states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania suggests that there is enough for everyone to get a slice of the pie.
Other states that could legalize online gambling
With the revenues New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan are generating, other states are taking notice. California, Massachusetts, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, and New York could possibly legalize online gambling in the near future.