As you may know, there have been a number of movements towards legalizing online gambling in the United States recently. Last December, the Justice Department issued a legal opinion that allows individual states to authorize nonsports Internet gambling within their borders. The ruling was geared towards allowing states to sell lottery tickets online, but applies to other forms of online gambling. The ruling was that the law only prohibits online sports betting. This set off a firestorm of activity across the nation as states are looking at ways to meet budget deficits and take advantage of the opportunities.
It’s a Race to the Starting Line
Some estimates put the online gaming industry over $40 billion annually. In 2009, the total US gaming revenues was over $88 billion. With that kind of money on the table, there is a lot of movement between the big players who have stakes in the current environment, and ones that want to get in on the ground floor in the new environment. We are seeing a flourish activity across many states in preparation for the new industry. Iowa, New Jersey, Hawaii, Mississippi and Florida haved introduced bills to legalize online gambling. Nevada has passed legislation that would allow Internet poker as soon as it can get specific federal permission. Other states have expressed interest in moving quickly, but it may be California that leads the way.
California Leads the Way
According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, online gambling may become a reality (at least in the state of California) in the near future.
Apparently, many of the gaming industry leaders have been contributing to state political campaigns in an effort to advance their attempts to legalize online gaming in the state. Legislation has been introduced in a number of states lately, and California looks like it may be ready to lead the pack. With a huge budget shortfall looming, legalized online gambling may provide the additional revenues the state is looking for.
The gambling industry sees California as the big prize in the online gaming market. An estimated 2 million residents play Internet poker, according to the California Online Poker Assn., comprised of over 40 casino operators that are leading the charge for legalization.
Fight for Survival
What this means is that online gaming is on its way. Current casino operators have a big stake in the game. Many of them are already funneling money into the online arena in preparation for the new competition. They realize that they need to be in when this thing goes live, or risk taking deep cuts to their existing business.
In addition, other states are watching closely. Nobody wants to be left behind. It seems that every state has budget problems, and who wants to pass up on an opportunity to help close those gaps? The problem is, you need to play to win. Once the legalization starts rolling, it will be too late to start thinking about how to set up shop. The big players will be ready on day one and will take the market share. This snowball effect means that states will be quick to pull the trigger and get in on the action was the game starts.
Get Ready to Play
What this all means is that it is highly likely that online gambling, especially Internet poker will get a big boost in the coming months. Look for highly sophisticated competitive sites to open quickly. In the highly competitive race for market share, we should also expect to see some fabulous rewards to gain customer loyalty. Game on!