Gambgling in America has its roots in the soil of its earliest inhabitants. Those that lived here and those that gambled their lives on a prospect of a new world. Gambling has been a way to pass the time since the first settlers arrived in America, games like dice and cards landed with the settlers from England. By 1610 seven racehorses had arrived in the Virginia colony, and the popular sport of horse racing soon became an every-mans sport. On the verge of independence the government found itself in need of cash, general George Washington had a war to win and so the first national lottery was established to fund the revolutionary war. (Read more)
Ever since the colonial times, since the first casinos of New Orleans, the California Gold Rush poker rooms, gambling has always been a part of the American Dream. Today, some restrictions apply but gambling is still available in the US. Gambling is a $240 billion industry, and it seems that will only keep growing. In 2016 the industry employed more than one and a half million americans and contributed $8.85 billion in taxes.
The world famous cities of Las Vegas and Atlantic City are the leading hubs of gambling in the western hemisphere. And will lead the way for more states and cities to come.
The Interstate Wire Act of 1961, is a US Federal law prohibiting the operations of certain types of betting businesses in the United States. The act has long been an obstacle on the federal level to launch online gambling enterprises. The Act begins with the text:
” Whoever being engaged in the business of betting or wagering knowingly uses a wire communication facility for the transmission in interstate or foreign commerce of bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest, or for the transmission of a wire communication which entitles the recipient to receive money or credit as a result of bets or wagers, or for information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers, shall be fined under this title or impisoned not more than two years, or both. ”
However in 2011, the assistant attorney general and head of the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel, issuead a memorandum that started a massive change in the US online gambling industry. The assistant attorney general concluded that the 1961 Wire Act does not conclude wire communications, that do not relate to ”a sporting event or contest”. This meant that the act applied only to sports betting.
A new opinion from the DOJ was released in 2018, reversing the 2011 verdict. So the road to online gambling seemed half open while being half closed.
In late 2018 the U.S Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (Federal court with jurisdiction over the district courts in Texas, Louisiana and Missisippi) ruled that the Wire Act prohibition on the transmission of wagers applies only to sports betting and not other types of online gambling. And a few days after this the Deputy Attorney General announced that the DOJ would delay enforcing the 2018 opinion for 90 days to ”Give businesses that relied on the 2011 opinion time to bring their operations into compliance with federal law.”. On June 3, 2019 Judge Paul Barbadoro of the U.S District Court issued a judgement that the Wire Act ”is limited to sports gambling”, setting aside the 2018 opinion. A DOJ spokesperson said the government was reviewing the decision.
Many states have legalized some forms of online gambling, the pioneers being Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware. Most of the states are licensing new casinos as you’re reading this. The legislation on online gambling is managed by each states respective legislature, and at this moment you can find Online Casinos in the states of New Jersey and Delaware. The battle born state of Nevada only allows poker to be played online.
New Jersey is the current leader of the online industry with Casinos, Sportsbooks, Lotteries and Online Poker rooms provided by many of the Atlantic City Casinos. Over a dozen providers are active within New Jersey, and more are to come. It is the fastest growing regulated online gambling market in the world.
Delaware became the first state to legalize online casinos back in 2012, and the online market opened up in 2013. At the moment there are only three casinos offering online gambling in Delaware. The Delaware Park, the Dover Downs and the Harrington Raceway. All of these sites offer most of the popular casino games like Blackjack and Video Poker.
The state of Pennsylvania legalized online casinos in 2017, but their official first launch date is set to July 2019.
West Virginia became the fifth state to open their doors to online gambling in early 2019. The state’s five casinos are allowed to pursue and develop casino and poker precense online. There is not yet a given time these casinos are expected to launch their sites. And the states legislature has not provided regulations for the online gambling market within West Virginia. These regulations are not expected before the year 2020, so no launch is expected before then.
The federal law surrounding sports betting in the US saw a radical change in 2018. The Supreme Court ruled in early 2018 that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protecion act of 1992 was an unconstitutional one. This ruling means, that basically any state could begin offering legal sports betting to the citizens of the state. So far, eight states are allowing sports betting, and five of these are offering sports betting. These states are New Jersey, Penssylvania, West Wirginia, Nevada and Mississippi.