US online gambling – where and when?
By Tihana Jurican
Having just returned from this year’s G2E, where Internet gambling was the talk of the town, GBGC would like to summarise what we think will happen in the USA.
We can all agree on the fact that Internet gambling will become legal in the USA in some form, the key question is where and when.
The first question is whether the solution will be federal or state. We believe the first decisions will be made on the state level, which will possibly be later followed by a federal solution. The US federal administration seems to be in disarray and currently has more pressing matters to attend to than Internet gambling. 2012 is also an election year, which postpones any possible gaming legislation. Another further complication is that not even all large players in the US market are on board to support Internet gambling. For example, some large casinos are on board but some still are not. Native American tribes seem to be on board finally, but they want it under their own terms and it would be difficult and time-consuming to settle all conflicting views. Thus we believe the process of federal legislation is likely to be so delayed that some states will want to accelerate it by approving something on an intra-state basis.
State lotteries have a better shot of starting online gaming than private operators. The main reason for this is that giving one operator or sector a right to offer online gaming will likely cause protests from other private sectors of the gaming industry.
Looking at individual states, it seems DC’ gaming is not going anywhere, despite being technically closest to start-up. We think that New Jersey has the best chance of being the first state to pass an online gaming bill; in their case, it would be poker or all casino games offered by Atlantic City casinos.
As for when, we are not very optimistic. 2012 definitely seems to be a no-go due to elections. But we believe that the following years are also unlikely as gambling expansion in any form always takes a number of years, even in countries where there is more consensus for change than is seen in the US. So it could be 2015 before operators are fully up and running under new legislation. Of course, if nothing passes by 2015, 2016 will again be a no-go due to presidential elections.