The online casino industry has been on the rise over the years. But the COVID-19 pandemic has further fuelled this growth. With brick-and-mortar casinos closed, and people encouraged to stay at home, most individuals are turning to online casinos to have fun. What’s more, casino owners are hurting. According to the American Gaming Association, Nevada alone loses an estimated $4.7 billion each month. And experts expect the US economy to lose about $43.5 billion in economic activity if these casinos remain closed over eight weeks. Casinos in states where internet gambling is legal are turning to their online portals to stay afloat. Now, the question stakeholders ponder is, can this pandemic be the eye-opener that most states needed to legalize online gambling in the US?
COVID-19 and Brick and Mortar Gambling
Following Governor Steve Sisolak’s order on a statewide closure of all nonessential businesses, Las Vegas – the mecca of all things gambling – has taken a massive blow. Vegas casino operators burn up to $14.4 million a day, have as little as five months to stay afloat. Elsewhere, both San Diego, California, and Atlantic City, New Jersey, have closed their casinos indefinitely.
Well, for casinos with remote access, things are not that bad. More players are trooping in to play their favorite slots and table games. Besides, online casino games have better payouts than land-based casinos. According to Morgan Stanley experts, shutting down of casinos could lead more states to legalize internet gambling – online casino and sports betting. Online casino-style gambling provides hope for the industry as the country mitigates the viral infection rate while minimizing its economic impact.
State of Internet Gambling Across the US
Most states forbid gambling, which applies to both online and offline casinos. On the opposite end, some states have embraced online gambling. But there are laws like the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and the Federal Wire Act that govern internet gambling in the country. The 2006 UIGEA law forbids banks or financial institutions from facilitating illegal betting transactions. On the other hand, the Federal Wire Act prohibits the transmission of bets and gambling information across states. But as you can see, there’s no explicit federal government law that bans online gambling (aka iGaming). So, each state makes their independent decisions on this loan.
Here are a handful of states that permit online gambling, and internet casinos for that matter:
- Nevada partially legalize online gambling by allowing online poker and sports betting
- Delaware legalized online gambling as early as 2012 but launched much later in 2013
- New Jersey permits both online poker and internet casinos, as signed into law in February 2013
- Oregon allows gamblers to play poker and access sportsbooks within the state
- Pennsylvania casino online games are legal within the state territory
- West Virginia allows only online sports betting but is in the process of legalizing poker and casino sites through its 2020 Lottery Interactive Wagering Act
Where to Play Online Casino Games
Though only a handful of states allow online casinos, these casinos provide virtually everything you will ever experience at the most prominent land-based casinos in Atlantic City. They not only offer the best collection games but have convenient quick and safe payment options, as well.
Here are the top 3 legal online casinos in the US:
Caesars Online Casino
Caesars Online Casino is famous for its Poker tournament. It is the online version of the posh Las Vegas Caesars Palace. The online counterpart for the world-famous Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. However, it is not available in Nevada since online casinos are not legal there. It, however, provides its services in New Jersey. The casino offers an exciting selection of online slots, online casino table games like Blackjack, 21 Poker, and many virtual sports betting games. It also has some captivating features and a rich loyalty program.
Golden Nugget Online Casino
If you are looking for a casino in New Jersey that has a rich collection of exciting games, then Golden Nugget online casino is your best choice. With over 600 games, you’ll have never-ending fun. Play blackjack, roulette and a variety of top-rated slots, and more. You also Live Dealer games that bring the casino experience right into your house. However, you can only access it if you are in New Jersey.
Tropicana Online Casino
Tropicana online casino runs on an incredible platform designed by UK software company Gamesys. That not only makes it one of the best New Jersey online casinos, but it provides immersive features that you won’t find elsewhere. When it comes to its games collection, you access to games by the likes of Williams Interactive, NetEnt, IGT, and many world-renowned casino game developers.
Online Casino Real Money Pennsylvania
Even though there has been an increase in online gaming in Pennsylvania, the revenue increase has not been enough to compensate for the lack of business at brick-and-mortar casinos. PA Casinos made $153.5 million in revenue in March, more than half than what they made the same month last year when they topped $316 million in revenue. But remember, the casinos only operated for a half that month this year as they have since closed indefinitely. Online casinos continue to cushion casinos in Pennsylvania, to salvage something. For example, PA internet casinos topped $24.3 million in revenues from online slots and card games in March, witnessing a 25% profit jump from February. The state collected $8.5 million in tax revenues.
Could things change in the post-COVID-19 era?
Looking at the figures posed by Pennsylvania online casinos, it is apparent states like Nevada that depend on gambling as a revenue earner but don’t have online casinos are hurting.
And let’s be honest, forbidding online gambling is not helping players. Those land-based casino players, while confined indoors, resort to online gaming. But if they reside in states that don’t allow online wagering, then they choose to play at offshore casinos. Some of these casinos are unlicensed, and the players are at the risk of being exploited.
Online gaming continues to ramp-up due to COVID-19 containment measures. If many states didn’t see the value of the online gaming industry, then, now, they do. State and the gambling industry as a whole should brace up for changes. Even when traditional casinos eventually re-open for business, brick-and-mortar casinos would be well-advised to acknowledge the changes in the market. More players will have adapted to online casino games and won’t see the need to visit casinos. Online casino gaming is the future of gambling; the earlier more states make it legal, the better for everyone.