The spread of sports betting and online casinos nationwide
Since March 2020, state-after-state have been turning to online sports betting, and to a lesser extent online casino betting in order to cure their economic ills.
Beset by economic difficulties in the wake of the global pandemic and seeing State revenues dry up, traditional online gambling hold-out states like Iowa, Florida and California are considering a switch to online sports wagering (in the first instance), to kick-start State Government revenue collection.
It’s a change that was made possible by the Supreme Court of the United States issuing a ruling in May 2018 that struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) of 1992 and released sports betting back into the hands of the states.
The additional revenue raised has been a godsend to those states already with legal sports betting. Many of those without are looking to take advantage of the law to help prevent entire state government revenue collapse.
Online Casinos Boom – but the Wire Act an impediment to growth
Following the closure of bricks-and-mortar casinos in wake of the pandemic, the accessibility of online mobile casinos on smartphones, tablets, laptops and home computers has led in an enormous boost in online casino use and revenue raised across a number of states including New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Sure, the silver lining comes on the back of huge land-based casino losses, however, without it, state revenues would have been utterly devasted rather than simply taking a big hit – a subtle but substantial difference.
Time to re-imagine the U.S. Wire Act after the Presidential Election?
The major stumbling block to online casino betting not being allowed to follow the spread of online sports betting in pandemic-hit 2020 has been the re-interpretation of the US Wire Act.
Looking back, the U.S. Wire Act passed in 1961, expressly prohibited the process of placing a wager over the phone between states, and it was later re-interpreted to apply to online casino gaming. A Department of Justice (DOJ) change in 2011 led to online casino gambling going on to become a major revenue earner for some states, with New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania leading the revenue-raising pack.
Another DOJ change in 2018 revised its 2011 opinion, thereby ceasing the spread of online casino legalization throughout the United States.
However, with presumptive Democratic nominee for President, Joe Biden, being a supporter of the 2011 DOJ Wire Act opinion, we may yet see legalized online casino gambling spread in the last two months of 2020 and early 2021 (pending the Presidential Election result).