What Does the Future Hold for U.S. Gambling?

The future of online gambling in the United States is either very good, only fairly good, or rather questionable, depending on what perspective you're looking at it from.

The inevitable is about to happen as the economy is slow. States, eager for revenue, and seemingly emboldened by a Justice Department opinion that the federal interstate Wire Act did not apply to anything other than sports betting, have investigated the possibilities of licensing and regulating online gambling for the purpose of collecting taxes. Nevada and Delaware already doing it, with California, New Jersey, Iowa and the District of Columbia not far behind. Native American tribes will surely want to be involved. Social gaming has been accepted by Facebook for real money in Great Britain and there are companies hurrying to develop their applications in anticipation of eventual legalization, however limited it might be.

Well, legislation on a federal level is certain to go slower than it will in the individual states, although it should be said that as states enter the fray, that could inspire some movement on a federal basis. There are certain to be some pro-gambling types who will advocate for that, and one of the largest groups involved in that argument is the Poker Players Alliance, which numbers more than a million members and whose primary interest is in either getting poker included as a "carve-out" in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, or in overturning that law and replacing it with something else. They have very little interest in advancing the cause of any other segment of the online gambling industry. They also believe that establishing online poker on a state-by-state basis would serve to fragment the market too much, and that uniform regulation of the industry on a nationwide basis is more workable.

Congressman Barney Frank tried to push a bill through that would create a regulatory framework for online gaming, and another representative, Robert Wexler, promoted the Skill Game Protection Act, which favored the legalization of poker. Nothing has happened yet.

In New Jersey, the state government, led by Governor Chris Christie and State Senator Ray Lesniak, are leading the charge to bring sports betting into casinos and racetracks. In the process, they are challenging the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which bans sports betting in all but four states. If this federal law is overturned, it could lead to challenges in favor of intra-state sports betting over the Web, since it would not appear to be in violation of the Federal Wire Act, which addressed interstate activity. Christie would pass a bill to legalize online gambling in the Garden State, but he would insist that licensure be restricted to existing entities that were licensed, the same as those eligible for sports betting parlors.

It might be accurate to say that things are looking up for players who would like to get involved easily; in other words, they will be able to use their credit card rather seamlessly in states where online gambling is legalized and regulated. For those who can already use a card in a U.S.-facing casino, that is an empty issue. With each successive state that decides to use online gambling as a revenue source, fewer choices are a possibility, because the entities permitted to be licensed will be a limited number, while enforcement against those "outlaw" companies may conceivably be stronger. And fewer choices are never really good for the consumer, especially when that consumer is already actively engaged in playing.

Best US Online Casinos