Legitimate online casino games have long been the sole domain of legal international betting sites.
These operators have offered gamblers in the US and abroad a huge selection of certified RNG casino games across every popular market since the 1990s, and they are the industrial gold standard.
While a handful of US states now offer legalized domestic online iGaming, the popularity of legal offshore mobile gambling sites has not waned.
In fact, if anything, they’ve only grown more popular since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and all the summary lockdowns of brick-and-mortar casinos worldwide.
And this checks out. With said sweeping lockdowns, the domestic gaming market has been effectively crippled, so it makes sense that more players than ever have moved their gambling overseas.
In short, for the domestic retail gambling scene, 2020 has been an unmitigated disaster.
But relief is coming.
As a result of the quarantines and massive hits casinos nationwide (and worldwide) have been taking, many lawmakers are starting to warm to the idea of legalizing local online gambling options.
To date, just four US states offer domestic iGaming to residents aged 21 and up, though the pastime is technically legal in six states.
Michigan – which legalized both online sports betting and online casino play in 2019 – is primed to become the fifth state to get its iGaming apps online, as the state legislature just waived the 15-day waiting period on various regulatory red tape.
This means that online casinos in the Wolverine State could claw their way into residents’ hearts and minds (and homes!) before the end of the year.
There are 26 casinos in Michigan that will be eligible to apply for online sports betting and online casino licenses, with the application process slated to go live sometime this week.
Per Michael Huff, a prominent Michigan sports attorney, the move to online gaming presents a safety net of sorts in light of the coronavirus and potential future shutdowns now that such a pervasive precedent has been set:
“Online betting is going to propose a huge opportunity for revenue generation to reach people who are comfortable betting from their homes. I think the casino is anticipating they’re going to attract some new users as well: people who are die hard sports fans but maybe wouldn’t visit a casino, may want to place bets online.”
Of course, this has been obvious for years, and it’s only now that a pandemic and broad retail closures have put hundreds of thousands of people out of work and brought state gaming tax revenues to a standstill that lawmakers are finally budging.
But despite the unfortunate reasons behind this push, the push is what matters.
Online gambling is a good thing for tens of millions of Americans, and it’s the future of the industry by just about every rational metric.
From convenience, safety, and security to financial efficiency, social media integration, and more, the Internet is where traditional casinos – and traditional casino players – are likely to make their fortunes going forward.
To see just how strong and economically sound the online gambling market is, you need look no further than New Jersey.
As one of the first states to offer online casino iGaming in addition to Internet-based sports betting, New Jersey absolutely crushed Las Vegas in 2020.
While Sin City saw revenues gutted almost entirely compared to 2019, New Jersey’s hold – and thus, its state revenue – was down a mere 40% year-over-year. Nevada numbers cratered 95% over the same period.
The reason for this performance gap over America’s most popular, historical gambling region and tourist destination is due to one thing and one thing only:
NJ has online iGaming, while Nevada does not.
NJ was able to weather the storm by offering its residents and visitors a host of online slots, online blackjack, and more.
Yes, Nevada has online sports betting (as does NJ), but with most sports suspended for most of 2020, that clearly didn’t stop the leak, much less right the ship.
The online casinos are what made the difference.
Now, proactive measures (or, if you like, reactive measures) to legalize local online casinos will have states going full steam ahead, with wind in their sails. Even Nevada is reconsidering its stance on the matter.
Granted, a universal move to online casinos in the US will take some time.
Each state has to legalize and regulate their own betting markets, and while some 20 states have already authorized local sports betting, casino play is still on the backburner for most of them.
In other words, it will probably take years before you’ll be able to gamble online with a domestic operator in your state.
Fortunately, you don’t have to wait, as you can still legally play all your favorite mobile casino games at the best, most trusted international casino sites.
Regardless of what states do or don’t do to get domestic online gambling off the ground in the near term, these sites remain legal to use in the vast majority of the US, with the added benefit that they’re open to players aged 18 and up instead of being limited to those who are at least 21 years old, which is the case for all domestic options to date.
The long and the short of it is simply this:
Finally, US lawmakers are seeing the light and warming up to the reality that online gambling isn’t scary or bad or detrimental.
Instead, they see it for what it is – the evolution of retail casino gaming that offers players more safety, more security, and more convenience than ever before.
But we already knew that, which is why we already play online.
And it’s why you should, too.