For decades, debates across the entire United States have raged on the issue of gambling. From nuanced changes in federal law to local initiatives, many people have advocated for the construction of new casinos and a liberalization of gambling laws in hundreds of jurisdictions. Throughout these debates, both sides have made allies that make for strange bedfellows in the lobbying process.
Online casinos are an entirely different animal and their rise has only appeared in the last 20 years or so. Many people who support gambling at-large argue that the reported issues with physical casinos are not present in online gambling and therefore these entities should be allowed.
We’ll take a look at some of the arguments and try to make heads or tails of the situation surrounding online casinos.
The Current Landscape
At the federal level, there is no actual legislation that prohibits online gambling. However, not every state has laws on the books that allow for online casinos to operate in their states. In fact, only a handful of states allow online casinos specifically: Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey (and the U.S. Virgin Islands).
Multiple other states have introduced bills in recent years that would change that, but none have thus far moved beyond committee and ultimately passed their state legislatures. These states include California, Mississippi, New York and Pennsylvania, among others.
With that being said, online gambling is common among players in all 50 states. This is because prosecution against online casino players is rare. At present, the major risk falls on the heads of those operating the casinos. However, we do not recommend you break the law if you’re not in a state that allows online gambling (click here for tips for where play is legal).
Arguments against Online Gambling
There are many persuasive arguments out there against the proliferation of online gambling.
One of the most common relates to how gambling is an addiction for many who do it. While physical casinos require you to travel and be on-site to gamble, online casinos can be accessed from virtually anywhere. This means that those without impulse control can more easily satiate their addictions and lose even larger sums of money.
Another argument against online gambling is based on who is likely to gamble. For the most part, poor and working-class people disproportionately engage in state-sanctioned forms of gambling like the lottery. Advocates against gambling say that making online gambling easier than buying a scratch-off ticket will only further fuel a trend of redistributing money from the poor to the wealthy.
Arguments for Online Gambling
Many individuals in both the business community and government have argued for liberalization of online gambling laws.
One popular justification is the added tax revenue each online gambling website can produce. Rather than outlaw the practice, states that legalize it can then tax the proceeds – in some cases, above and beyond that of a normal business – and use that money to fund public services (or just reduce tax burdens elsewhere).
Another argument relates to the logistics of the status quo: state governments (as already mentioned) cannot prohibit nor police end-users and keep them from gambling. While they may be able to keep casinos from operating in their states, those who wish to gamble will just do so anyway via online casinos in other states or countries.
Depending on who you ask, there are multiple arguments for and against legalizing casinos in all states. From business concerns to issues of morality, much debate has occurred and will continue as more states begin to look at their options.