Knowing that the USA has a flourishing land-based gambling industry, one undoubtedly expects the country to boast a thriving online gaming business, too. After all, the US is the bastion of liberty and the global center of the tech revolution, so it is only sensible to presume that the country has a liberal online gaming business, right?
As a matter of fact, however, the USA still holds some very old-fashioned views of the online gaming business, and online gaming operators are still heavily restricted by Federal laws. What is more, whereas the election of President Trump arises optimism in online gambling circles, it is still unclear when and if online gambling laws will become more liberal across the States.
Online Gambling Legislation in the US
It all started with the Federal Wire Act of 1961, which outlawed the transfer of betting-related information over telephone lines. In 2002, it was ruled that the 1961 Act was applicable to sports betting activities. However, some agencies attempted to extend the scope of the Act, and in 2004 search engines began blocking all online gambling-related advertisements. Two years later, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed and, whereas it did not outlaw online gambling, it made things extremely difficult for legitimate operators.
Things began to clear in 2012, when a new law was passed, allowing states to license online and mobile casinos, sportsbooks and poker sites. Since 2015, three states allow online gambling activities.
In May 2018, the Supreme Court declared the 1992 PASPA law unconstitutional and declared that it is up to individual states to decide whether they will have a sports betting business or not, as well as whether they will allow mobile and online bets to be placed.
Present-day State of the US Online Gambling Industry
According to www.casinogamespro.com/us, several types of gambling are available in the following US states: Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Delaware passed online casino legislation in 2012 and three casinos opened online gambling sites almost immediately. Poker was legalized the same year, but the market has remained rather small, which resulted in an agreement with Nevada and New Jersey to establish a joint online poker pool, where gamblers can compete against one another.
Nevada is the first US state to offer online sports betting services, and until 2018 it was the only state to offer such services. In addition to online sports betting, the state also offers online poker activities, with WSOP.com being the only legal online poker forum.
Online gambling was legalized in New Jersey in 2013, but all online casinos within the state had to prove that they are in a partnership with a land-based casino in Atlantic City. In 2018, shortly after the abolition of PASPA, the Garden State legalized online sports betting, and online sportsbooks were opened in July the same year.
In addition, New Jersey also has an online poker industry, which was legalized back in 2013. However, some companies exited the market or merged shortly after launch.
Arguably the youngest gambling state in the list is Pennsylvania, where online casino legislation was passed in 2017. Soon after the law was enacted, nine casinos operating in Pennsylvania applied for licenses to open online gambling sites. The first three licenses were approved in 2018, so it is expected that online casinos will become a reality soon. Additionally, the state has recently legalized online, but there are still no online poker sites available.
All in all, online gambling activities are still quite limited on US territory. Nevertheless, the abolition of PASPA and the introduction of more liberal gambling laws show that the country is slowly changing its views of gambling and, who knows, in a few years we might witness a thriving US online betting industry.