The many faces of gambling online and what it could mean for a state's bottom line
It may appear that most states now have their own online versions of Vegas, where players can place bets in virtual casinos or on sports. But in reality, the online offshoot of brick-and-mortar gambling is still in its infancy. Despite the proliferation of online sports betting in many states, playing casino games online still has a long way to go. Nevertheless, there are many ways to gamble on the internet.
The Game Day Casino broke down the different types of online gambling and the legality of each, including casinos, poker, and sports betting across the U.S., citing data from The American Gaming Association (AGA), US Bets, and reporting by Bloomberg, the Associated Press, and iGB.
The virtual world of gambling, or "iGaming" in AGA's terminology, is multifaceted and comprises traditional casino games like poker, slots, and blackjack. It doesn't include online sports betting, where players wager on the outcome of matchups in traditional sports like football, soccer, baseball, or sometimes esports. Although, bettors can also gamble on the outcomes of political elections.
As the term suggests, "online [or] mobile sports betting" is distinct from "retail sports betting," which takes place in physical locations such as casinos and sports venues.
While many legal gambling avenues exist, the illegal online gambling market remains problematic in the U.S. AGA estimates that bettors wagered $68.3 billion in sports bets (largely placed online) with illegal bookies and offshore sites. Americans bet another $337.9 billion on illegal iGaming websites.
However, a 2018 Supreme Court decision opened the floodgates of legal online sports betting that had been stymied for years. Now, nearly 1 in 2 bettors who usually play with illegal operators plan to move to regulated operators.
Close to half of the states have embraced the 2018 online sports betting laws to bolster their coffers. In contrast, since the U.S. began permitting online gambling within state borders in 2014, only eight states have legalized casino games or poker as of September 2023. Adoption has been slow for legalized online casino games, but it continues to grow.
In 2022, AGA reports online casino revenue reached $5.02 billion, an increase of 35.3% from the previous year. So why aren't more states all-in, putting their chips down to increase their cash flow?