Legislating Morality: The Online Gambling Elephant Looms Around The US

March 16, 2017
Legislating Morality: The Online Gambling Elephant Looms Around The US

It’s time to address the elephant in the room when it comes to online gambling: It’s happening whether states take action or not.

This week, West Virginia became the seventh state in the union to start considering online poker or online casino legislation, joining:

Of course, Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey are already on board, having enacted legislation over the past several years that legalizes, regulates and taxes online poker rooms, online casinos or both.

Should any of the bigger states currently considering legislation ultimately decide to pass it, most pundits expect that to create a bit of a domino effect, with several more ready to jump in line and grab their piece of the iGaming pie.

iGaming’s next steps

What comes next for West Virginia is likely to be the same we’ve seen in other states. This means:

  • Discussing ad nauseam the pros and cons of such legislation;
  • Endlessly bandying about different tax rate figures and projected revenue numbers; and
  • Standing on some kind of moral high ground debating how advancements in internet security can help prevent kids, drunks and the mentally impaired from flushing thousands of dollars down the toilet.

Various incarnations of different bills will likely go through the committee stage. Some may even make it the floor of the different houses of the State Legislature and ultimately be voted on.

There will be a lot of talk, and almost every angle will be discussed. But what they aren’t likely to address is that elephant in the room.

The iGaming elephant

The thing is, Americans are already gambling online from the comfort of their own homes every single day. They’re already playing online poker in their underwear when no one else is around to tell them they should really put a pair of pants on.

They’re doing it through offshore entities where they may have to jump through a few hoops to get money on and off, but they’re doing it nonetheless.

Sure, the Department of Justice came in a few years ago and shut down online poker’s biggest operators, that didn’t completely eliminate the game. A variety of offshore sites still accept US players, and they have only grown as a result.

In fact, according to PokerScout.com, which tracks online poker traffic, each of these sites just posted a seven-day average of around 1,000 cash game players each, every day.

While nobody is really tracking American activity on any of the thousands of offshore Internet casinos out there, you can be sure it’s equally significant.

The truth is, if lawmakers in any of the seven states currently considering online poker and casino legislation have any kind of belief they can legislate whether Americans can play online poker, roulette, or even bet sports, they’ve got another thing coming.

Americans are doing it whether they like it or not, and that’s what no one seems willing to admit right now.

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iGaming’s real truth

What is really under consideration is whether state governments want to tax and regulate it, or let it go on as a black market.

The real question is, do the states want their piece of the pie? And, are they willing to step in and protect American consumers from these offshore bandits who may one day decide to simply disappear with their money in order to get it?

In the end, it only makes sense for them to want to move forward. The Internet is an awfully big place to try to police, but it’s time the states get theirs while the getting is good.

Online gambling is a reality whether they legislate it or not, and taxing and regulating as soon as possible is simply good business.

If state legislators take a long hard look at that elephant, they’ll quickly realize it’s all just a matter of taxing and regulating something many Americans are already doing.

Now, if they can just focus on making responsible fiscal decisions as opposed to trying to legislate morality and what Americans can and cannot do in the privacy of their own homes, iGaming may just have a real future in this country.

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