According to experts in the industry, regulations governing online gambling in the US could see their restrictions relaxed in the coming months.
According to data from the American Gaming Association (AGA), many land-based casinos are expected to face huge losses this year. Casino employees could see as much as $59 billion in lost wages, with $34.4 billion lost in annual tax revenue.
The body said it was in talks with Congress on how to implement measures to mitigate the losses. “[We are] engaged with Congressional and administration leadership to shape stimulus and aid packages that will support employees, their families, and our communities," said AGA senior vice president of strategic communications Casey Clark.
Boost for online gambling
Online gambling, on the other hand, is seeing an increase in traffic. With thousands of people staying home, many gamblers have moved their activities online. However, online gambling regulations in the U.S remain some of the strictest in the world, making it hard for the industry to benefit locally.
While it's easy enough to find US online casinos which take real money players, many are based abroad and so don’t aid local workers. In states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where online gambling and/or sports betting is legal, gross revenue for online operators has increased significantly.
Experts now believe that many players will not return to physical casinos but continue to gamble online even after restrictions lift. Some think that this will force states to review their gambling licenses and make the necessary amendments.
“We need to be cautious going into states that need the revenue. We need to educate them on why having a competitive market with low tax rates and reasonable fees will create more revenue in the long term." said the former CEO of Poker Players Alliance, John Pappas.
Sports Betting in Michigan
Now, the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MCGB) is looking to push forward legislation for online sports betting to this year. The state regulator has already begun accepting gaming supplier licensing forms - a strong indication that it wants to accelerate the process.
"We've taken another step toward the launch of online gaming by beginning the licensing process," said MGCB executive director Richard S. Kalm. "The MGCB encourages suppliers to file applications soon so we can conduct investigations and issue provisional licenses, which are allowed under state law."
State departments will also be looking into drawing up new legislation for online virtual sports betting. The practice is relatively new but has seen a surge of interest on platforms like FanDuel, where players can pit 'virtual' sports teams against each other for money. With no existing legislation in place, many states have simply applied any existing online gambling laws to the activity.
However, as it differs in many ways from both sports betting and online gambling, new legislation needs to be drafted to properly regulate it. Since traditional sports betting has recently been legalized in Michigan, there’s hope that the process will be less cumbersome than in neighboring states.