Online casino legalization slow to spread across the USA and Canada

Online casino legalization

Once the elitist playgrounds of the rich and famous, casinos are today accessible to all, and that’s largely thanks to the internet and the age of smartphones. We no longer need to venture to Las Vegas, Monte Carlo or Macau to try our luck on the slots or at the roulette wheel when every casino game imaginable is only a click or a swipe away on our mobile handsets.  

The internet has no real concept of national and state boundaries, but nations and states take divergent views of online gambling. Across North America, US states have been falling over one another to push through legislation to legalize online sports betting, which is now part of the fabric in more than 30 states. Likewise, in Canada, legislation passed last year gave provinces the authority to self-regulate sports betting. However, when it comes to online casino gaming, it is a different story. 

Web based casino gaming lagging behind 

Over in Europe, the lines between sports betting and casino gaming are becoming increasingly fuzzy. Many sports books are offering casino games, and well-known casino brands are branching out into sports betting. In the USA and Canada, it is a different picture, as legalized online casino gaming is the exception rather than the rule. 

To date, only six states US states have legalized online casinos, while in Canada they were completely prohibited until a few months ago. But earlier this year, Ontario introduced a system for licensing online casino operators, and Nova Scotia launched a state approved online casino.  

That is not, however, to say that Americans and Canadians are unable to play online casino games outside those states and provinces. There are dozens of online casinos for Canadian players. They are domiciled outside Canada, but as the regulations only apply to operating an online casino, Canadian residents are not breaking any laws by visiting them, regardless of which province they call home.  

It’s a similar story in the US. There are no laws that expressly prevent residents of, for example, Texas or California from playing casino games online. However, the casino could find itself facing sanctions for actively targeting such customers and banks in these states would similarly be breaking federal law by processing payments to or from online casinos.  

Why the difference? 

Michigan is one of the few states to have legalized both online sports betting and casinos. Both went live in January 2022, and while sports betting has generated $10 million in tax dollars, the casinos have raised an incredible $250 million. Michigan is no isolated case – online casinos are a tax revenue cash cow. That would seem to play in their favor. However, the special federal assistance most states received last year has forestalled the need to find new ways to bring in revenue – at least for now.  

More importantly, however, casino gaming simply does not have the same backing as sports betting. Influential lobbyists such as billionaire football team owners and TV networks carry considerable clout, and sports betting is perceived as a fun way to get behind your team on a Sunday. Casinos, on the other hand, have yet to fully cast off the “dens of iniquity” image, and they don’t have the big hitting lobbyists to champion their cause.  

All this will change in time, but if you are wondering when online casinos will come to your home state, be prepared for a long wait.  

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BSV Staff

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