With COVID-19 lockdowns straining the economy, severe budget cuts are the new normal. Lower public income and subsequent tax payments have put common households and the state coffers under duress. iGaming has emerged as an unlikely hero in the midst of the pandemic, offering respite to the government and entertainment to the masses.
Although online gambling is yet to be legalized across the states, a leading number of state authorities have taken note in the last few months of the iGaming boom and the subsequent impact on the state economy where gambling is regulated. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia are among the few states where online gambling is now legal, and more states are expected to follow suit.
The Impact of COVID-19 on State Coffers
The current fiscal stress is a lot different from what the world was previously used to on many counts. Many of the side effects could have been mitigated had time allowed for preparations. However, precautionary arrangements could not be taken in time, resulting in local budget cuts and those relying on taxes have taken the biggest hit!
On the other hand, the states where online gambling is legal or items related to the sport are manufactured or shipped, have been generating constant revenue. This might be a lucrative opportunity, but experts fear high taxes in the new markets could hamper business in the long run, State authorities need to exercise restraint and not vie for instant rewards.
Most commercial and tribal casinos that shut down during the pandemic have now reopened partially. However, its impact on a society that depends on casino revenue is huge, especially the tribal communities. Revenue from online casinos is slowly offsetting this disparity. Although, consistent efforts are required.
Which States are Likely to Legalize Gambling Next?
While there have been multiple rounds of discussion and debate on the subject, New York, Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts, Louisiana, West Virginia, and New Hampshire are likely to regulate online gambling next. Although these reports are to be taken with a grain of salt, the anxiousness of the state authorities drives the experts to believe that change is forthcoming.
The annual rise in iGaming revenue in New Jersey and Pennsylvania was the catalyst that took the US by storm and the remaining states are likely to follow suit. Michigan and West Virginia have already taken an active stance in regulating the industry within their borders. The first casinos and online sportsbooks are scheduled to be up and running by 2021.
While video slots, poker, live roulette, and other card games continue gaining popularity through the US, not all activities are legal across every state. Nevada, for instance, does not allow online casinos from operating within the state borders, although virtual sports betting has taken off without a hitch. American lawmakers in general have shown their intent of legalizing iGaming within their jurisdictions and that is positive news in the long run.