What’s Next For Gambling In The U.S.?

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What’s Next For Gambling In The U.S.?
© USA Today

Five years ago this month, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed states to decide whether to legalize sports betting. Now, many people across the country can wager legally at sportsbooks inside casinos near where they live or on apps — or both.

Since May 2018, when the court decision was handed down, sports betting has become legal nationwide and is live in 33 states and Washington, D.C. It is legal but not yet operational in four more states. 

Where does legal U.S. gambling go from here?

Three Gambling Issues to Watch

With states collecting tax revenue from legal sports betting and casinos, the push for continued gaming expansion is underway.

Here’s are three things to look for in the coming months and years:

More Legal Sports Betting

Though legal sports wagering has swept across the country, it cannot be practiced legally in the three most populated states: California, Texas and Florida.

There have been efforts in all three states to legalize sports betting. It is uncertain when there might finally be a breakthrough — legislatively, in a public vote, or, in Florida’s case, a court decision.  

In addition, sports betting remains illegal in more than half of the 12 states that are home to universities with teams competing in the Southeastern Conference, including Oklahoma, whose Sooners are set to join the SEC next year. 

These states comprise the last major geographic area without legal sports betting. Facing resistance from religious groups and anti-gaming factions, some lawmakers in these Southern and Southwestern states have been reluctant to expand gaming on their home turf. Some of their colleagues are urging approval, saying they are losing tax dollars to neighboring states where sports betting is legal.


Gambling.com is doing a multi-part series on the fifth anniversary of the repeal of PASPA, which opened the door for each state to consider online gaming. Today, What’s Next for Gaming in the U.S.?


iGaming Expansion 

iGaming is legal in only a half-dozen states, but legislators who see the potential tax windfall from online casino gaming are pushing for its expansion. 

For instance, New York state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, D-Queens, contends his state potentially is losing billions in tax money to nearby states where iGaming is legal.

In neighboring Connecticut, for example, about 500 online games, including slots, craps and blackjack, are available to iGaming customers, said Kaitlyn Krasselt, communications director for the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection.  

In states where iGaming and sports betting are legal, iGaming far outpaces the revenue raised from sports wagering.

However, online gaming has been slow to catch on in part because casino owners are concerned that customers who have access to iGaming on mobile devices won’t visit brick-and-mortar properties and spend money inside the resort. 

Since 1999, Las Vegas Strip casinos have made more money from food, lodging and entertainment than from gambling, according to The Wall Street Journal. Across the country, casino operators don’t want to jeopardize that nongaming revenue by giving customers the option of staying home and gambling only on mobile devices.

Addabbo and others have told Gambling.com one solution to this concern would be to link iGaming apps to brick-and-mortar casinos, with incentives to bring customers inside. Addabbo said iGaming in New York will happen someday, adding it’s “not a matter of if, but when.”

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Casino Industry Evolution

Brick-and-mortar casinos are continuing to innovate in attracting visitors. 

Across the country, including in Las Vegas, some casinos have adapted a nonsmoking policy in an effort to attract younger, health-minded customers, though longtime gamblers who enjoy smoking have pushed back against this effort.

Additional changes are occurring in the casino industry. Some resorts are shutting down poker rooms and clearing out other space to add increasingly popular slot machines and electronic table games to the gaming floor. 

The innovations don’t stop there. In Las Vegas, Circa Resort, the first hotel-casino built from the ground up in downtown’s Glitter Gulch in 40 years, is an adults-only property (except for a steakhouse downstairs). 

This adults-only experiment represents a departure from the industry’s efforts in the 1990s to make Las Vegas a family destination. Recently, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has even run TV ads encouraging adults to leave children at home, in part by tricking them to stay. 

Las Vegas casinos also are catering to the swimming pool culture especially popular among younger visitors, with multiple pools on site and reservations available, at a price, for poolside lounge chairs and cabanas. 

Some casinos also are building visitor experiences around major events, like NFL games and auto races, to include show tickets, exclusive meals and premium event seating.

These changes add up to a nationwide evolution in — and public acceptance of — legal gaming in part sparked by the spread of regulated sports betting across the country, beginning five years ago.

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Larry Henry

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