Not Embracing Gambling in Florida Brings a Substantial Opportunity Cost
2018 — time hand over control to the States!
Back in 2018, the U.S. supreme court handed over the baton to the states allowing them to make their own rules on gambling. With the rest of the world and markets like the U.K. racing ahead, the government saw an opportunity to reach the same levels of glory that those at the front of the track are having. A country like the U.S., which already has a secret love affair with casinos, poker, and gambling, along with a huge sports industry, means that they have enormous potential to slip past the rest of the competition and one day lead the line in this race to be the biggest gambling market.
Before congress decided to relinquish their authority on gambling, the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was the legislation preventing states, apart from Nevada, which had some exceptions for gambling and sports betting. Although places like Las Vegas and Atlantic City are famous, Americans had a limited avenue to gamble, which is a fascinating concept when you consider that it is something legal in many countries around the world. New Jersey was the state leading the charge to bring about changes and after several years and large amounts of money spent campaigning, they were eventually successful in 2018. This passed control over to the individual state to decide the laws on gambling, particularly looking at the big areas of online casinos, land-based casinos, online poker, and sports betting.
Many believe that the states are heading in the direction online UK betting and it is not hard to see why. The market growth seen in the country’s gambling industry has been substantial and the US has the potential to trump these figures by tenfold. In a period where many states are looking for avenues to fund economic recovery, gambling certainly seems like an attractive option.
How views on gambling changed in the U.S.
Despite the laws, Americans have always gambled. In a similar story to alcohol during the prohibition times, just because alcohol was illegal, people still found ways to sell, produce and drink. As the laws prohibit gambling, just as they did with alcohol, Americans are still finding ways to gamble, so much so that the American Gaming Association believes that there is $150bn worth of illegal sports wagers taking place each year.
Gambling in the U.S. is sometimes seen as a controversial topic with crime being a factor. This is perhaps partly down to stories of illegal gambling hustles being run by mobsters that have as a result portrayed it to be a shady industry, all with reason.
The Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation (MBI) is an agency that dealt with issues related to this. There would be several instances where they would raid an illegal gaming house that offered a large cash prize, but they had already predetermined the winner and was, therefore, a con. Operations like this would go on to receive big sentences of up to 30 years for racketeering. The legalization of gambling has actually changed how Americans perceive gambling as the environment for gambling becomes safer and more regulated, meaning scams like these are much less common.
While the legalization makes it much easier to regulate and avoid situations as previously mentioned, it is true that sections such as online gambling are slightly harder to regulate on a state-by-state level. This is because there are two aspects to consider. You have one part which is the customer who is gambling and as discussed earlier, this is something that is happening regardless of the laws in place.
The second component is the online casinos or bookies who are registered in a different state or even a different country where it is legal. The internet provides access for those anywhere in the world to visit a website and play. This is entirely possible thanks to the internet. For those living in states where it is illegal but still playing with an online casino that is registered in another place where it is legal, there is a conflict of laws. It is difficult to then regulate the operators, as they don’t necessarily fall under state jurisdiction.
Even though gambling and casinos are legal in Florida, it is still lacking behind the rest of the country particularly with online gambling. As a result, some believe that this brings substantial opportunity costs as other states take advantage of the high potential rewards a state can see from further legalization.
One of the big draws for states to do this comes from the tax revenue that they will gain from it. The global gambling industry is expected to be worth $516.03 billion in 2021 which means big business. Combined with the demand for it across the nation, it makes a lot of sense to open the doors to it. The money earned from taxes can then be pumped back into the state as a whole along with the other general benefits such as new employment. The longer they wait, the longer it will take to catch up to the other states and companies who will have had much more time to establish themselves.
Keep an eye on Florida!
The numbers and history have shown that despite the laws prohibiting gambling in the United States, Americans have always found a way to keep doing it. With this underground and unregulated gambling industry taking place, it rightfully so built a negative reputation that included crime as one of the major opposing factors to gambling as a whole. But after a long battle, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of making gambling legal, passing control over to each state to make the final decision within their own borders.
Many states jumped at the chance to see many potential benefits both economically, in safety, and in the reduction of crime. Some however are slower than others and face missing out on pioneering the industry as other companies and casinos begin to emerge around the country. Florida is one of those. It is going to be interesting to see if and when, they will decide to bite the bullet and go all-in on their gambling economy.
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