The online gambling industry has been booming worldwide over the last couple of decades, with many countries allowing for fully legalized online gambling. In some parts of the world, online operators work with international licenses, while other countries issue their own licenses that regulate the way in which sites service the residents of that country.
In the USA, online gambling was illegal until quite recently, when Supreme Court decisions made it possible for states to regulate online gambling within their borders. We talked to industry insider Lukas Mollberg about the emerging online gambling industry in the USA and its potential for emergence in the state of Florida.
Thank you for taking the time to meet with us Lukas. Before we go into any specifics, can you quickly introduce our readers with the legal situation of online gambling in the USA?
Thank you for having me here with you! The legal situation of online gambling in the USA is not defined on the federal level. Each state has the right to make its own laws, which wasn’t always the case. Today, some states like Pennsylvania or New Jersey offer licenses to operators who partner with local live casinos. This makes online poker, sports betting, and casino games perfectly possible in these states.
However, the process is relatively slow and there is a lot of pushback from different lobbies. Some states are working on the bills to legalize some forms of online gambling as we speak, while others may never have online gambling. It’s quite likely that we won’t have legal online gambling on the federal level for a very long time, if ever.
You mentioned that online gambling is now legal in some of the states. Can you tell us a little about the operators that exist in the USA and how people can find them?
Of course! Numerous states have legalized online sports betting, and poker and casino games are also available in some. Potential players can find information about online operators at sites like BestBonus, along with information on online gambling in general.Keep in mind that players can only play on sites licensed in their own state. A site that’s licensed in the neighboring state will not be available to you for real money play.
There are legal sites to play poker, casino games, and bet on sports, while daily fantasy sports are legal in nearly all states. These sites have to be in partnerships with American casinos such as MGM or Golden Nugget in order to get a license approved, which is the one unique thing about American gambling sites.
Why are online operators making such deals with the local live casinos? What made the government put forth such a requirement?
Well, the casino industry in the USA is pretty massive but mostly controlled by a handful of companies. When online gambling legalization was first proposed, they were the main opponents of it as they knew that online casinos and sportsbooks would surely drive traffic away from their casinos.
The compromise that was made is one where everyone is satisfied. The big casino companies form partnerships with major online gaming operators from the rest of the world. These operators already know how to run a good online gambling business, and the casinos get their share of the market they always held a sort of monopoly on. It’s hard to get gaming licenses in the USA and casino operators weren’t going to let their years of hard work get diminished.
We are now seeing online gaming operators also make deals with tribal casinos to set up shop, so basically any live casino entity gets to have an online presence as well in these states. In most cases, it is the big international companies like Bet365 and American fantasy sports sites like FanDuel that are also launching gambling in the USA.
What about Florida? Are there any legal gambling sites for Florida players? If not, what options do they have if they enjoy games of chance?
There has been some massive news for online gambling in Florida just recently. The Governor has signed a deal that may easily bring online sports betting to the state and it gave the Seminole Tribe control over sports betting in Florida for 30 years. The Tribe will likely run online sports betting and mobile sports betting and we can expect that to start quite soon, since there is no longer a reason to wait.
Like many states before, Florida has recognized the fact that sports betting is already happening whether they like it or not and legalizing it means that they can also tax it and make it safer for everyone involved. The deal with the Seminole Tribe was expected as they are the number 1 organizer of live gambling in the state already.
Outside of the USA, online gambling is legal in most places. How are other countries solving the same problems that the US is trying to come to terms with?
Online gambling has been a hot topic in many countries like the UK, Germany, and Sweden for many years. These countries have come up with ways to regulate and license sites on the highest level and it’s working just fine. The UK for instance has its UKGC which does a great job of regulating online gambling for the entire country, despite its massive population.
There really isn’t too much reason that the USA would not have online gambling regulated on a federal level, apart from taxation. I think the states and the casino owners are looking to get the most out of the deal and they might not get that if they were running under federal licenses. With state by state licensing, the big players in each state get their say in what happens and who gets licensed.
Lukas, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. We hope the sports betting deal in Florida shows some results soon and maybe we can have you back to discuss it.