The US is going through an interesting period of time at the moment, with state after state legalizing forms of online gambling. Whether that be online sports betting in New Jersey, or online casinos in Colorado, step by step, the industry is opening up for citizens right across America.
But why is this? Why is the US beginning to relax laws that have been around for decades?
Why is gambling being legalized in the US?
Well, there are a number of reasons. One of the biggest impacts recently though that has brought about the change was COVID-19. With lockdowns introduced, many businesses lost money, which caused the Government to lose revenue in taxes. Those businesses hit hardest closed up shops causing an increase in unemployment. Again affecting tax revenues.
So, to help combat the impact of the pandemic and the lockdowns brought in to reduce the spread of infection, legalizing online gambling was a key option. It already took place at licensed sites whether they were brick-and-mortar casinos or sports betting at race tracks, but they were limited there. With no customers, these places suffered. The one way to help them was to open up the space in the online world for them to operate.
But this opened the doors for many businesses to get involved and new businesses meant new jobs, and tax revenue would start to increase again as unemployment fell. But not just that. The activity of gambling in the US is potentially profitable for all parties involved.
Sportsbooks and casinos can make profits on people losing bets and bettors can make big profits on their wages if lady luck is on their side. But the Government wins either way, because they can tax company profits, and bettors winnings. Therefore means tax revenues would skyrocket, allowing to recoup the costs that were brought about by the events over the past two years.
But the process of legalizing online gambling didn’t just start following this period.
An iconic city left to rot
New Jersey has always been a place people have flocked to to place their wagers, thanks to the iconic location that is Atlantic City. One of the earliest places in the US where gambling would become a focal point of the industry in the area, its history goes back well over 100 years. The Great Depression, Prohibition, and even two World Wars couldn’t stop this magnificent place from prospering.
However, as time went on, it was left to rot, with very little investment to keep the area up to the standards that were once expected of this famous city. Crowds flocked to the area in fewer numbers, the boardwalk that was once bustling with tourists, now just a quiet and sombre place. It was a shadow of its former self
So in an effort to bring Atlantic City and the state of New Jersey into the 21st Century, changes were needed. Changes that would help rebuild the once great reputation and that would breathe new life into New Jersey.
New Jersey got ahead of the trend
The much-needed changes occurred on the 26th of February 2013, when Assembly Bill 2578 was signed by Governor Chris Christie. A bill that meant legal online casinos licensed by the New Jersey Division of Gaming were able to operate, allowing people to play games like poker and blackjack online. So where once Atlantic City was the go to place for everyone’s physical casino experiences, it was set to pioneer a new age of online gambling.
It would take time to implement though, with the first regulated sites not launching until later that year. But the rewards were soon seen. The local Government managed to generate over $130m in the first twelve months since launching, which it put towards reviving the once stunning Atlantic City and also toward services that would tackle problem gambling.
This new rejuvenation of New Jersey would then see crowds flock back to the once famous city like never before. New casinos and resorts began to open, visitors came back for their vacations, it was a return to former glories. And it wouldn’t have been possible without the passing of Assembly Bill 2578 to legalize online casinos.
What could others learn from New Jersey?
It was far from perfect when online gambling was first introduced into New Jersey, but over time, they’ve managed to perfect how it was implemented and regulated. But because they were one of the first to legalize it, many others have looked to learn from mistakes made, and the positives that came out of it. Often asking for advice from both Government and gaming businesses in the area, like a son or daughter asking their father for help when they need advice.
For businesses, a big lesson was not to push so hard with marketing in the early days. This is because so many businesses launched in New Jersey when the laws first legalized online gaming in this format, but so many went bust too. There was a lot of competition from existing big names and new smaller brands alike.
Therefore, the competition was rife, and quite often, a big marketing budget didn’t translate into the huge number of customers they were expecting. Meaning many lost millions in investments. It’s better to launch, wait, play it safe. Then once some of the weaker competition has been weeded out, that is the point where you begin to push your marketing.
One big concern for Governments was the issue of problem gambling, and preventing people falling into the trap of ‘chasing their losses’. Charities already exist to help out, but much of this was funded by local Governments, and it is already costly for some before legalizing more gambling activity. That’s why many should follow New Jersey’s idea of adding an additional tax onto gaming companies.
These taxes go specifically to those who assist in promoting responsible gambling, and help fund programs of recovery. They’ve not just helped save lives, but they’ve also brought about real change too, seeing the introduction of deposit limits, allowing players to self-exclude themselves from sites, and also developing artificial intelligence software used by gaming companies to help identify possible problem gamblers, in order to help get help to people before it’s too late.