Although the legal landscape of US online gambling has been improving, this form of entertainment is still in its infancy. While some cities in the United States have been considered gambling meccas, like Vegas or Reno. Players from most US states cannot gamble online legally. In this article, we will discuss whether the 46th US president can contribute to the improvement of the situation in this sector. Stay with us to find out whether the new US administration could have an impact on online casino laws.
Online Gambling During Trump’s Presidency
Back in 2011, Forbes published an article titled Donald Trump: Internet Gambling Mogul. According to it, Trump was back then preparing for the possibility of federal Internet gambling regulation becoming law or New Jersey regulating the market on the state level. Fast forward 5 years and the billionaire casino mogul is the 45th US president. One would think that things would start changing quickly in the online gambling industry. How completely wrong they would be.
The move that showed that things for the online gambling industry will change for worse was the one made by the Department of Justice. In 2019, the DOJ reversed the 2011 opinion that the federal Wire Act is limited to sports betting. Instead, they said that the act outlaws any interstate form of gambling. Besides sports betting, the Wire Act practically banned interstate online lottery and online gambling, which was a step backwards for the industry.
Although there are no proofs that Donald Trump himself was involved in these actions. Some believe that his administration could have influenced DOJ’s decision-making. According to some sources, there is another thing that could have had an impact on the 2019 changes to the Wire Act. One of Trump’s biggest donors was the casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. Adelson, who passed away in January 2021 at 87, had been one of the fiercest opponents to the legalization of online gambling in the US.
All Eyes on Biden Administration
On the other hand, Joe Biden and his administration have no (obvious) interest in the gambling industry. However, there may be hints indicating that Biden’s presidency could be favorable to it. While the new president of the US has been mainly silent on this topic. His reactions to the changes to the federal Wire Act were encouraging. Whether they were part of his political campaign or not. The Democratic presidential candidate in 2019 said that he didn’t “support adding unnecessary restrictions to the gaming industry”. Commenting on the changes to the 1961 act.
Only two months after Biden was officially sworn as the 46th US president, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit issued a mandate that could end the Wire Act case. To explain what led to this, we have to provide you with a backstory. After the DOJ reversed the Wire Act, the New Hampshire Lottery challenged its opinion and filed a lawsuit. Concerned that such a decision of the DOJ could threaten multi-state lotteries, like Mega Millions and Powerball. Other operators also filed lawsuits in support. The district court ruled in favor of the New Hampshire Lottery, and the US First Circuit Court of Appeals sided with it.
Department of Justice
The ball is now in DOJ’s court. They can either accept the rulings or petition the US Supreme Court. The clock is ticking as the deadline is May 15, 2021. Given that the Wire Act now affects almost all forms of online gambling. It is obvious that all eyes are on the Biden administration and the decisions the DOJ will make.
The impact of the infamous federal act on US online gambling is huge. One of the examples of how its reinterpretation affected the industry is the fact that online poker in Pennsylvania was delayed due to it. Online poker is all about shared liquidity or combining players from more states into one pool. It is a peer-to-peer game, meaning that the bigger the player pool, the more attractive the games.
What Else Can the White House Do?
At the moment of writing this article, online gambling has not been regulated in most US states. Besides the Wire Act of 1961, there is another piece of legislation on the federal level that regulates online gambling. It is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA). The UIGEA targets gambling businesses and prohibits them from “knowingly accepting payments” that are “in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet”. Fantasy sports, skill-based games, and legal intrastate and intertribal gaming are excluded by this act.
While some speculated that the US casino market would be strictly regulated once Trump was not the US president any more. It turns out that only Nevada and New Jersey benefited from his presidency. When it comes to online gambling, it did not thrive as much as it could.
This form of entertainment has been regulated across the European Union, with more and more countries jumping on the bandwagon to encouraging both local and offshore operators to offer their services. On the other hand, in the US, there are only a few states that have made online gambling legal. They include New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Michigan is another state that has allowed all forms of online gambling.
US Sports Betting
When it comes to US sports betting, the overall situation is slightly better. A total of 20 US states have legalized this form of entertainment. The latest news shows that more states will soon join the list, including Arizona, Maryland, Louisiana and South Dakota.
One may ask what the White House can do if the regulation of the market is done locally. Well, not much, but it should not impede the development of the markets if possible. The story of the Wire Act and its reinterpretation by the DOJ is illustrative enough, we would like to add.
Time will tell what will be the impact on online casino laws with the new president. However, it is obvious that things have been moving slowly but surely. Whether the US gambling industry will be thriving in the years to come will depend on the federal and state-level administration. That’s for sure.
The first sign of things moving forward would be if the DOJ accepts the ruling of the US First Circuit Court of Appeals and does not petition the US Supreme Court. It would be a gesture of goodwill and a hint that the new administration is ready to boost the online gambling industry.
And, the development of online gambling markets around the US means more job opportunities and an increase of state revenues, after all. It is definitely a goal to look forward to.