US Online Casinos: A Look Back at 2017


The United States was without any form of legal online gambling available to its residents since the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 effectively pushed the business out of the country - apparently for good. The only form of online game similar to internet gambling was daily fantasy sports (DFS), considered by many a service right at the boundary of a game of chance and a game of skill. But things changed in 2011 when an opinion issued by the Department of Justice opened up the possibility for individual states to regulate online poker and online casino games as they see fit. Following the example of their European counterparts, where anyone can experience Vegas through Vegas Palms online gambling, regulators in three states decided to act on this freedom: Nevada and Delaware regulated online poker and New Jersey did the same with the addition of online casino games. And it was a good decision, from a budgetary point of view, that is: New Jersey pocketed more than half a billion in taxes generated by its regulated online casinos ever since. The example of the Garden State inspired several others to at least consider the regulation of online poker and online casinos - sports betting is out of the question right now, as it is banned by 1992's PASPA at a federal level. And some of them made some progress, too. Pennsylvania became the fourth US state to reform its gambling regulations to cover internet betting options. As Governor Tom Wolf signed H 271 last October, the state legalized and regulated daily fantasy sports, online poker, and online casinos. There are still a lot of things to work out before the new bill's provisions are put in practice - but PA can already expect to see its budget boosted by $100 million in license fees this year. Other states have also made some progress on the matter. Last year, Illinois successfully pushed a bill through its Senate that would regulate DFS, online poker, and online casinos. The bill is still stuck in its House as it didn't make it on the agenda before the legislature wrapped things up for 2017 but it is expected to re-emerge later this year. Michigan also has active gambling bills both in the Senate and the House, and gambling is also back on the table in New Hampshire, where online lottery sales have been legalized last summer, and there are signs that the state's Lottery Corporation might be considered as the governing body of iGaming in the state. However these initiatives work out, there's one thing we can be sure of: 2018 will be an interesting year for online casinos and poker rooms in the United States.