Online gambling in the US has come a long way. It’s been a path filled with hardships and successes to balance out the efforts of everyone involved. We witnessed the rise of the Internet and the first online casinos, poker rooms, and sportsbooks operating across the state.
In 2011 we saw the ultimate ban on online gambling platforms and a few years later its reinstatement as a legal activity. In the past years, there have been a lot of changes and progress regarding online gambling legalization. It’s safe to say there is still plenty left to be seen on this front.
- Online gambling is exclusively legal in select US states
- Multiple states have pending legislation on regulating their online gambling market
- West Virginia is set to become the fifth state to legalize online gambling in the US
Legal Online Gambling in the US
The first laws regarding legal online gambling in the US were introduced back in 2013. Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware all used their right to regulate the online gambling market on their territory, with the former focusing on online poker action, while the latter two additionally set up legislation for online casino sites.
These states additionally set up a shared poker player pool in order to increase player traffic on their respective platforms. They are currently the largest network operating in the US.
Four years after the first states addressed the issue, Pennsylvania followed suit and passed the House Bill 271 in late 2017. This move officially legalized online casino and poker gambling in the state, with sports betting to be added by the following year.
In May 2018, the Supreme Court overruled the PASPA act as unconstitutional and provided US states with the grounds to introduce specific regulation for legal sportsbooks. So far, eight states have taken note and legalized online sports betting practices in their jurisdictions:
A recent DOJ opinion of the 1961 Wire Act has caused some turmoil in regard to legal online gambling practices. The Office of Legal Council put forward a new interpretation under which interstate gambling is completely forbidden across all online gambling forms. Consequently, this brought uncertainty to states with fully legalized online casino and gambling markets, as well as those with pending legislation.
US States Set to Introduce Legal Online Gambling
The following are some of the US states that are on the path of legalizing online gambling.
West Virginia passed the bill into law in late March 2019. Governor Jim Justice let the 15-day period pass without vetoing the House Bill 2934, officially allowing state officials and regulatory bodies to set up a proper procedure. Application and licensing fees are already expected to benefit the budget, with the first operators estimated to launch by 2020.
After a favorable House vote, Michigan officials moved their online gambling legislation towards the Ways and Means Committee. The bill is now waiting on its final approval before landing on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk. There are no specific predictions about the launch, although many expect it sometime in 2020.
The SB 1126 was officially signed by the second half of March, moving Virginia one step closer to legal online gambling. Although the bill referred to this, it’s not intended to legalize the practice, but only to ask for a comprehensive study from the Joint Legislative and Review Commission in the state. The legal process is set to continue after the final deadline on December 1, 2019, although final legislation isn’t expected before the year’s end.
Primarily sponsored by Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., the SB 18 is expected to legalize online poker gameplay in the state sooner rather than later. New York was actually among the first to break the ice this year, and are expecting to introduce 11 legal online poker platforms for players aged 21 or more.
Nevada’s latest bill refers to mobile device gambling, expanding the industry’s market in terms of availability rather than diversity of gameplay. It aims to define the term most transparently, thus setting even better grounds for further growth in the near future.
Which State Will Be Next to Legalize Online Gambling?
As things stand so far, West Virginia is most poised to become the fifth state in the US to introduce legal online gambling practices. They have passed the necessary bill into law, have a formulated structure in terms of application fees – initial charge of $250,000 and renewal charge set at $100,000, as well as a tax policy set at a 15% rate.
The uncertainty surrounding the DOJ’s opinion remains pertinent, although things are looking for the better, and Pennsylvania’s official announcement about launching their platforms mid-July are proof of this.