US online gambling & betting efforts set to regroup in 2015

Adam Silver – NBA

Efforts to liberalise the US online gambling market stalled in 2014 with no new states joining New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware in allowing online gambling services and regulatory policies. The lack of progress witnessed in 2014 has underwhelmed pro gambling campaigners and international operators eyeing market entry.

Furthermore the poor revenue performance of the three online gambling states, has further dampened US market expectations, as betting operators have failed to progress within the complicated frameworks of US online gambling.

At Federal level any debate to implement state wide online gambling practices and policies has been met by a powerful anti-online gambling lobby led by the interests of casino and leisure operators.

Nevertheless online gambling campaigners have entered 2015 with renewed hope that the Senate can make the necessary adjustments to progress the online gambling and sports betting sectors. After an underwhelming year, pro US online gambling campaigners are prepared to set realistic market expectations under the current US online gambling sector framework.

In December financial data analyst Eilers Research had warned US states planning to legalise igaming to keep their financial projections realistic. In its latest report called ‘US iGaming Outlook for 2015 and Beyond’, Eliers pointed out that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s team had estimated around $180m in tax for the first year of operation, when in reality the tax revenues from opening the market were a tenth of that figure.

The realistic market approach has further been met by positive and progressive remarks from US sporting bodies. In late 2014, NBA Chief Commissioner Adam Silver publicly stated his support for sports betting to be regulated at federal level in order to ensure consumer protection. Silver stated that US courts needed to address the situation as US consumers were wagering an estimated $400 billion illegally.

Silver’s remarks were met positively by the American Gaming Association (AGA), who stated that it would help US pro leagues identify a ‘size and scope’ for its betting market.

Pro online gambling advocates are now pinning their hopes on a renewed push for California to legalise online gambling. If approved California would likely be the US online gambling’s biggest market (population 38 million).

Further optimism for progress in 2015 has come from PokerStars, now owned by Amaya Gaming of Montreal. After previous run-ins with the US Court of Justice, the worldwide market leader in online poker has stated that US market entry is key to its corporate growth. The operator will likely enter the New Jersey online gambling market in  2015 in partnership with Atlantic City Resorts Casino.

Should PokerStars be approved, it will operate an online poker platform in conjunction with Resorts Casino in Atlantic City. The success or failure of the world’s largest online poker operator is likely to determine whether internet gambling makes any more headway in the US in 2015.

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