The global online gambling industry is a huge market, currently valued at approximately $59 billion and forecast to almost double by 2023.The fastest growing region of the world for online gambling is North America, where recent changes to legislation have added new opportunities for gambling companies to expand their services both in terms of the types of products offered and geographically.
Some of the more recent legislative changes have removed blanket bans on activities such as sports betting and online gambling and introduced laws permitting each state to set their own regulations for these types of service. With each state introducing individual laws, navigating the gambling landscape can be complex.
California retains strict laws regarding gambling in casinos or wagering on sporting events, although the state is moving forward with new legislation to relax sports betting laws. Californians who wish to place bets on the outcome of sporting events can do so within specific parameters, which include horse racing and fantasy sports, but they cannot yet gamble on the outcome of live sports within the state.
The rules for land casinos in California are restricted to tribal casinos, which must be licensed. Outside of tribal casinos there are one or two loopholes – card rooms are permitted so long as the house takes only a rake and not a percentage of the profits, so players are betting against each other rather than the venue. There is a legitimate state lottery and playing bingo for money is also permitted.
The state of California has tried on several occasions to pass laws that will fully legalise online poker and other online casino games. However, there is currently no legislation in place for online gambling. What this means in practice is that it is illegal for anyone within the state of California to own or operate an online gambling website, but there are no legal consequences for anyone playing online.
Operators from outside California can provide a real money online casino site accessible to players within the state, and many have established a strong market base there. The questions that may arise for those who do play is that the market remains unregulated, so there are no consumer protections in place. Those who do gamble online are recommended to choose reputable sites with a reputation for strong customer safety practices.
While gambling online is allowed in California, it is not the strong and regulated industry that it has become in some other states across North America. New Jersey has been leading the way for several years in terms of opening up the gambling market in a fully regulated way, generating profits for the state in the form of taxes and creating employment.
Other states are even less permissive than California when it comes to gambling. In Arizona, citizens are only permitted to gamble on horse racing and lotteries, and casinos are only allowed if they operate on tribal land. This is despite the state being close to Nevada, which historically has been one of the few places in the United States where most forms of gambling were legal. In Utah, anti-gambling legislation is written into the constitution, so citizens are unlikely to see any relaxation of the laws there.
The online gaming market is a global phenomenon that has seen huge increases in entertainment market share over recent years. More and more people are becoming attracted to the idea of playing real money games online. Mobile gaming and other advances in digital technology have accelerated market growth and the data suggests we can expect significant growth in value over the next few years.
States and countries that have officialised and regulated online gambling are those regions set to take the largest slice of the increasing profits as more people sign up for online casinos, sports betting and other forms of real money online gaming. Since the new legislation regarding sports betting in the US came into force in 2018, several companies have expanded their sports betting sectors and the results have been successful.
States such as New Jersey, Nevada and Pennsylvania that have fully regulated online gambling markets are already seeing profits surge. California may benefit from introducing clear legislation, regulating the industry and generating income for the state. The state already has approximately 65 land casinos on tribal land and around 85 card rooms, proving the popularity of gambling among residents.
Players using online gambling sites within California are legally required to declare any winnings as taxable income. With industry regulation, the state could be making more profit from the owners as well as the players, as can be seen in Pennsylvania. Gambling taxes in Pennsylvania totalled $1.533 billion in 2019.
With many US states beginning to introduce more permissive gambling laws and online and mobile gambling seeing huge increases in popularity, it seems like the market will continue to expand for quite some time. Gamblers in California will just have to wait and see if the online industry will become regulated any time soon, but until then they can feel free to access offshore sites using appropriate safety checks.
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