As US sports bets boom, internet gambling is slow to expand

Only six states offer online and mobile sports betting, which two-thirds of the country now offers.

As US sports bets boom, internet gambling is slow to expand

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The panelists of a casino conference in Atlantic City in April 2023 said that there are many reasons why online gambling hasn't spread beyond the six state where it is currently legalized. However, they expect the market to grow over the next few years.

Wayne Parry/AP

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The panelists of the casino industry conference held in Atlantic City Wednesday, April 19,2023, said that there are several reasons for the lack of expansion beyond the six states in which internet gambling is currently legalized. However, they expect the online market to continue growing in the coming years.

Wayne Parry/AP

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ATLANTIC CITY (N.J.) (AP) - While two thirds of the nation now offer legal sports betting only six states have online casino gambling. This has disappointed industry expectations that the rapid expansion of sports betting will also bring along internet casino betting.

In a speech Wednesday in Atlantic City at the East Coast Gaming Congress, gambling state legislators and industry executives offered a variety of explanations as to why internet gambling is still limited to merely a few eastern states.

Internet gambling is legalized in New Jersey and Connecticut; it's also available in Delaware, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware. Nevada allows online poker, but not casino games.

By contrast, 33 states plus Washington, D.C. offer legal sports betting.

Lloyd Levenson is an attorney representing many Atlantic City casinos. He said, "It's a puzzle to me as to why there are 30 states or so that allow sports betting, but only six that permit I-gaming." You have to ask yourself why.

Shawn Fluharty is the minority whip of Werst Virginia House of Delegates. He said that the disparity was surprising, because internet gambling brought in more money than sports wagering. In his state, he said it would take three months' worth of sports betting revenues to equal a month's worth of online casino revenue.

Some people in the gambling industry and in statehouses around the country continue to worry that allowing internet gambling would cannibalize revenues that would have otherwise gone to brick-and mortar casinos, even though states like New Jersey have shown that this is not the case.

In 2022, internet gambling in New Jersey brought in $1.6billion. This is up by more than 21% compared to a year ago. Nine casinos in Atlantic City won $2.8 billion last year from gamblers who visited them, an increase of nearly 9% over the previous year.

Indiana state senator Jon Ford stated that his state attempted to pass internet gaming this year but failed. This effort was at least partially undone by a legislative research report that feared that online gambling could eat up revenue from brick-and-mortar casinos in an unacceptable manner.

He said he questioned the validity of the report and that he would try to pass the bill again next year.

Howard Glaser, the global head of government relations at Light & Wonder (the gambling equipment manufacturer), said that efforts to expand online gambling were 'dead' in every state during this year.

"Where we have a problem, is that there is a realisation that it is all about revenue -- Who gets a slice of the pie?" He said.

Glaser stated that many casino companies do not want to provide a foothold for companies they perceive as a threat to their existence. The casino industry is fighting for dominance over who gets to grow.

Fluharty said about 65% of the country is governed by Republican-controlled state legislatures, a group he said is less likely to favor gambling at all, let along expanding it.

He and others have said that as federal pandemic aid comes to an end, the states will be once again looking for money in order to avoid increasing taxes. They said that internet gambling should be given a second look in many areas.

The panelists all agreed that New York, Indiana and Ohio are likely to be among the states adding internet gambling within the next two-year period. Fluharty said that states like Ohio, which recently adopted sports betting, might also add internet gambling.

Jordan Bender is a senior equity analyst at JMP Securities. This market, we estimate, can reach $3 billion. That's an enormous, massive amount.

Duane Bouligny, managing director at Wells Fargo Bank said Texas is still a far-fetched possibility.

He said that there has been a change in attitude in the past two to three years. There is now a future in Texas for gaming. However, he doesn't expect this to happen any time soon.

They also suggested that Iowa or Illinois could be another option.

Siobhan Lane is the CEO of Light & Wonder and she expressed optimism about internet gambling's likely growth.

She said that 'i-gaming in the U.S. is still a young phenomenon. We know this will change. "The revenues generated by New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan are simply too large for other states ignore for very long."

Wayne Parry is on Twitter.