It would be nice to say that gambling is legal in the States and that be the end of it, but the situation is much more complicated than that. Certain gambling activities may be legal in one state, yet those same activities could land you in hot water across the state border, even if they’re legal in that particular state.
A monumental ruling by the US Supreme Court in 2018 created more freedom in the US around gambling, by allowing individual states to decide whether they’d legalise sports betting. Previously, Nevada had been the only state in which you could bet on the outcome of a sports game.
This post looks at where states stand on gambling now, the benefits of legalising gambling and also compares the state of gambling in the US with that of gambling in Europe.
Where states stand
Only Utah hasn’t legalised any form of gambling, and it probably never will. An anti-gambling stance is enshrined in the state’s legislation.
Meanwhile, online casinos are legal in:
- New Jersey
- New Hampshire
- West Virginia
- Rhode Island
Life since the US Supreme Court ruling
Since the ruling, several states have legalized sports betting, implemented appropriate laws and allowed operators to provide sports betting services. Montana, New Mexico, Colorado, Tennessee, Washington D.C, Oregon and New York all join the list above.
Some states allow betting in-person and online. Some allow online only or in-person only. Betting on college games is also restricted in some states.
States reaping the benefits
New Jersey has long been an advocate of sports betting and was the state that fought for the change in legislation. The state had challenged gambling laws before and been denied. It wasted no time in getting things moving when the Supreme Court finally agreed with them.
Since then, New Jersey hasn’t looked back. A year later and billions of dollars in sports bets had been placed. Total gaming revenue jumped by 27% from $217.1 million in May 2018 to $276 million in May 2019. The passing of sports betting helped breathe a life back into horse racing in the state.
The state governor, Phil Murphy, who made history by placing the first legal sports bet in New Jersey, was highly optimistic about New Jersey’s prospects. He even predicted that the Garden City would take over Nevada as the sports betting capital of the US.
Part of the reason for the success has been the legalization of mobile gaming. This is legal as long as it’s within state lines.
Pennsylvania has also reaped the benefits of legalising online gambling activities. The legalisation has raised plenty of tax dollars. Not only that, of course, but the economy itself has also benefited, with lots of new jobs being created.
Michigan is another state that have benefitted from legalising online gambling. Experts believe that the business rates and competitive licensing fees, plus a generally solid commercial casino infrastructure which is already place, make the legalisation online gambling in Michigan good for the operators and for the state. They’ve predicted gambling activities could raise up to $80 million a year for the state.
Why would states legalise gambling?
The most obvious reason is the revenue it would generate for the state. Sports betting is revealing itself to be a superb way to get more money flowing into the state’s coffers.
Business have closed either temporarily or permanently and people have lost their jobs. As a result, state finances have taken a beating. According to estimates by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, COVID-19 will leave a cumulative $555 billion hole in state budgets over fiscal years 2020-2022. This doesn’t include local and tribal governmental shortfalls.
Besides generating the benefits that New Jersey and other states have enjoyed, states can make the most of the speed with which sports betting operators, for instance, can mobilise. They can get up and running within around six months to get the income flowing and starting to close that gap. Even when casinos are closed, people could jump on apps and keep playing, doing the state a good turn.
In the last few years, Kentucky, Ohio, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Connecticut, Carolina, South Carolina, Maine, Minnesota, Arizona, Georgia, Texas, Wyoming, Kansas, Alaska and Hawaii have all been moving towards legalising sports betting.
Meanwhile, Maryland, South Dakota, Washington, Virginia and Louisiana have all gotten onboard with sports betting and are various phases of implementing laws and creating systems to move forward.
In view of the damage COVID-19 has caused, these states may ramp things up to rebuild their finances and their economies in 2021.
Gambling and Europe
Whereas the US has taken time to warm to gambling, in the Europe, attitudes are a little more liberal, especially in the UK, in which gambling on horse racing and at bingo halls has been legal since the 1960s. These activities became legal when the UK introduced the Betting and Gaming Act to do away with restrictive, archaic laws around gambling.
Italy and France enjoy reputations of displaying a liberal attitude towards gambling and Spain is also more receptive to gambling, whereas in Germany laws are more complex. The US may be taking time to catch up to Europe in its attitude towards gambling, but it’s certainly doing its best and the US Supreme Court decision was a big step in that direction.
The US has long had an uneasy relationship with gambling, but it’s embracing some of the opportunities legalising different forms of gambling offers. Many states have gotten especially onboard with sports betting and, in these days of COVID-19, may step things up to mend the holes the pandemic has inflicted upon them.