One of the most expressive terms we could use to describe the state of the online gambling industry worldwide is “controversial”. Online casinos, poker rooms, sportsbooks, and bingo halls are all legal and regulated in some countries, partially legalized in others, in a legal gray zone in some, and in the US… well, depends on what you consider online gambling.
If we take the widest definition of online gambling, there are 44 states in which some form of it is legal – online lottery ticket sales, simulated gaming, and daily fantasy sports all fit this broad description. If we look at gambling regulations according to the strictest definition of online gambling – covering poker, casino games, bingo, and sports bets – there are only three states that have such regulation, with only one that has a working online casino market – New Jersey. This has been the case for several years, yet changes in the online gambling market are potentially taking shape as we speak. Let’s see what the state of online gambling is in the US in the middle of 2017.
Underground gambling over the airwaves
While online casinos are only legal in one state, residents of many others do still gamble online, playing Canadian online slots and other games at offshore operators. Unless there is a law explicitly against it, US residents can play at online casinos, but US banks are prohibited from processing transactions to and from them. This doesn’t stop some offshore operators from accepting US residents as users, making use of intermediaries like online wallet services to accept their payments. EU-licensed online casinos like the All Slots still don’t accept players from the US, though, and they seem not to do so in the future. While the All Slots accepts users from other controversial markets, like Australia and Canada, its policies seem to be strictly barring any interference with the US gambling market.
Some international online poker rooms also accept US players but these are usually not the biggest groups like PokerStars and 888. Sports betting, in turn, is illegal in almost every US state – except for Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon – which, as the Graverobber in Repo! The Genetic Opera said – leads to the growth of an illegal submarket that is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions each year.
Some states move toward legalization
According to Online Poker Report, there are currently seven states with online gambling bills in the works. California and New York are planning to regulate online poker, while Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia plan to allow a broader range of services to be performed within their borders. The Illinois Senate has also passed a last-minute bill to regulate online gambling – the Illinois House still has to vote on it to move it forward.
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