Though online casinos have been around for more than two decades, they have seen a tremendous increase in popularity over the past five years. Statistics show that the industry grew by almost 70% in two years and that the worldwide online gambling market is worth $66 billion, set to hit annual revenues of $92.9 billion by 2023.
At the forefront of this digital revolution are sites that let you play slot machines online and those that accept bets on sporting events. In the US, Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia allow for companies to operate and offer casino games via the internet. Michigan is joining this bunch soon, and more states are making efforts to fall in line with this trend.
However, while New York is showing signs that it may move to legalize sports betting, the same does not seem to apply for online casinos. In the past Governor Cuomo, rejected the idea of allowing sportsbook apps, claiming that they violated the state’s constitution. Nevertheless, legalization is under consideration, as state senator Joseph Addabbo looks to push Bill 17D. That said, no one is talking about the possibility of legalization of online casinos and how the state can profit from it.
Online Casinos Bring Hefty Tax Revenues to New Jersey
When it comes to online casinos in the US, the Garden State is the pioneer, spearheading the effort to legalize online gambling in the country. In 2013, then New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a bill that allowed sites to provide online games of chance if they partner with struggling Atlantic City gaming venues. After a rocky start, the number of such platforms grew year to year, and now New Jersey is raking in massive tax revenues.
In August of 2020, the state posted record-setting online gambling revenues of $87.8 million, with online casinos taking in $84 million of that pie. Total gaming taxes for that month alone amounted to over $13 million, and the total amount of taxes paid by operators in 2019 was around $66 million.
People Are Already Playing at Offshore Sites
Seeing as the industry is exploding and new sites continuously pop up, many make their services available to players from the US. New Yorkers do not have to look for platforms outside US borders. They can play at those that operate from the previously mentioned states that permit companies to run such sites.
Today, thanks to virtual private networks, players can mask their location and gain access to sites that won’t accept them. Cryptocurrencies allow for anonymity, so, unless the platform uses advanced software that can detect VPN use, New Yorkers are free to play where they want, leaving the state without the ability to tax them.
Gambling Giants Are Stepping into the Digital Sphere
A report in early 2020 suggested that sports betting juggernaut William Hill, via its US division, plans to offer online casino games in New Jersey in the second half of the year. The company then announced its further expansion to Pennsylvania at a later date. In October of 2020, it quietly added a casino section to its sportsbook app for New Jersey players.
This occurrence comes at the heels of the impending acquisition of William Hill by Caesars Entertainment, which has a 20% stake in the company due to its acquisition by former competitor Eldorado Resorts. Caesars already operates online casinos in New Jersey, and so does MGM Grand under the brand BetMGM. More industry powerhouses aim to make similar moves, such as Wynn Resorts, which inked a deal with operator BetBull and is investing $80 million in the venture.
If New York legalizes gaming sites and opens the door for such companies, it will bode well once the state is ready to allow massive land-based casino expansion. If or when that happens, it should provide a significant boost to the local economy via new employment opportunities, increased tourism, and more.
Gambling Laws in New York and Recent Developments
Currently, in the Empire State, you can legally place bets online on horse and dog racing and fantasy sports. Once the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 passed, Native American tribes opened gaming venues in New York, whose number now stands at seven. In 2013, after legal provisions allowed the establishment of non-tribal casinos, four new ones became available to residents.
While there are some retail sportsbooks in New York, online ones are still not in play. However, no law explicitly bans residents from gambling on the internet, and many do so with no fears that they may face prosecution or receive a fine. Pro-gaming politicians and lawmakers made attempts in 2019 to include internet wagering in New York’s budget bill. In 2020, they raised the issue again but couldn’t reach an agreement before the legislative deadline. According to experts, it is a matter of when not if the activity becomes legal.