The gambling industry has been booming in the US of late, but it is no recent phenomenon. In fact, the growth has been increasing drastically over the last five years. We have seen new online sportsbooks launching, new online casinos, and the introduction of fantasy sports in many states as well.
One of the core reasons for this growth in the US is because many states are beginning to legalize the activity of online gambling in various forms. But why is this happening? What caused the sudden turnaround in legislation for so many US states?
Where it all began
The craze started back in February 2013, when Governor Chris Christie signed Assembly Bill 2578 to pass legislation that would mean online casinos could operate legally in New Jersey. Operators would have to register their interest to apply and apply for the appropriate license from the New Jersey Division of Gaming, who were the official regulator of the industry.
The reason for their legalization was because one of the state’s most famous attractions, Atlantic City, was in serious decline. Much of the great gambling metropolis was left to ruin, and the local government needed a way in which to renovate the once iconic city, allowing them to breathe new life into a forgotten area. Hoping to return it to its former glories, like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
With the launch of this new industry of online casino games and more, it would not only create new jobs in New Jersey, lowering unemployment and increasing tax revenue. But they would also get tax revenue from the new businesses, and players’ winnings too. It was a win-win situation for them, and one that had hiccups along the way, but ultimately paid off.
In the first 12 months since legalizing online casinos, the local government managed to generate over $130 million. Money that would be put toward responsible gambling programs and bringing Atlantic City back to life.
A chain reaction
The success of its legalization started a chain reaction for other states to look at the legalization of similar activities. Many wanted to first see how New Jersey would handle tackling issues like responsible gambling, how they would police the industry, what worked well with their plans, and what did not. This way, they could put cases forward for their own states to legalize online casinos and ensure they took the best bit of other operations and avoided the parts that did not work.
The ball really began to start rolling about five years ago, when a lot of the research into New Jersey’s operations finally came to an end and showed that the benefits outweighed the costs. More states began to put bills forward to their relevant authorities, about launching their own investigations into the legalization within their own boundaries.
This escalated more though once the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Many land-based casinos had to close when lockdowns were introduced, leaving many staff out of work, and profits began to plummet. This also impacted the US economy, there was less tax income being generated, and with stimulus checks being sent out, costs were on the rise.
The government needed a way to recoup the costs and to help the businesses affected. Many casinos believed that was through legalizing online casinos and online sports betting. A popular operation over the waters in the UK that helped to save similar businesses. And so, state after state began to legalize online gambling one after the other, like falling dominos.
How successful has it been?
The introduction of online casino games has been a big one, seeing states rake in millions of new revenues. But it was not so easy for businesses at the start, with a lot of competition entering this new market. Many offered up online casino sign-up bonuses in order to attract customers, but with so many, people were fluttering between multiple sites to make the most of each one, so it was not drawing in and keeping hold of customers as these operators wanted.
Therefore, businesses began to pay out millions in marketing to push their brand, with the likes of Caesars and BetMGM having already established names that would help them succeed. Other smaller brands that were lesser known to the general public had a harder time, and many of these companies were bought out by competitors or went bust.
But once things settled, the growth of the industry began to see it climb a steep incline. It was not just a case that revenues increased and then remained the same with little fluctuation. Revenues were steadily increasing month on month, almost quadrupling by the end of the year in some states. And they have been continuing that trend ever since.
Which online casino games have had a big impact?
There have been several online casino games that have helped contribute to the trends we have seen over these last five years. Slots are ever so popular, but one of the biggest reasons is table games. Although not the traditional kind you find in a land-based casino.
Online casino games gave operators a chance to switch things up and freshen up traditional games with revamped versions offering new experiences. Games such as live lightning blackjack which can offer up to 500x your stake if certain numbers come in, blackjack switch that offers players a chance to switch out their second dealt card to give them a higher chance of winning, and Crazy Time, a game show like experience that can offer up winnings of 20,000x your stake.
One reason these games have been so popular is because streamers on Twitch and YouTubers have begun working with online casinos to promote their games like they would if they were streaming video games. This allows them to showcase the features these games have and demonstrate how they work.
So, as you can see, there has been a lot going on in the industry with more states legalizing gambling online every single year. It is likely with many states yet to legalize online casino games, that more will follow, and we’ll see trends continuing in their upward direction easily for another five years following the whirlwind of the last five.