Bracing for Impact: US Casinos and Legal Internet Gambling

US Casinos and Legal Internet GamblingWith Internet gambling finally legalised in the State of Nevada, casinos are braced for what lies ahead as their customers may not need them any more.

Since Tuesday's historic opening to the public of the first legal online gambling website in the United States since they were outlawed in 2006, casinos have been getting ready to weather the storm as more operators open their virtual doors to paying customers. Las Vegas based Ultimate Gaming were the first past the finish line with the launch of and offers online poker for real money to its customers.

Exodus from Casinos?

The fear is that physical customers may dessert the glitz and atmosphere of brick and mortar casinos for the convenience of playing their virtual equivalent on home computers, tablets and smart phones. No one really knows for sure how this will impact the big casinos in reality, as some argue that people who would visit live casinos will continue to do so for the experience that you can't get from a computer or phone.

But for the time being at least, the only game in town that you can win or lose real money online is poker. And since Texas Hold'em is not actually something people would go out of their way to visit a real casino to play, it's a moot point.

More States to Follow Suit

With the Federal Government relaxing their stance on Internet gambling as long as it does not include sports betting, individual states have been given the green light to legislate as they see fit. So far, ten other states have already considered the possibilities of legislating for the legalisation of online gambling within their borders, but none have yet to take it to a working conclusion.

According to American Gaming Association president Frank Fahrenkopf, "It's no longer a question of if Internet gaming is coming; it's a question of when." He continued, "Unless there is a federal bill passed, we are going to have the greatest expansion of legalized gambling in the United States. I don't think that's what anyone intended, but it is what we're seeing."


There are some concerns with how this move will impact society as a whole and gamblers in particular. Many believe that introducing legalised Internet betting will create many more problem gamblers and cause far more social problems with addiction being a major fear.

Of course, these concerns are voiced at every turn as we have witnessed the back and forth'ing of a number of attempts to overturn the legislation introduced by the Bush administration in 2006. When the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) was passed into, it was not very well composed and wide open to interpretation. However, it became the vehicle the federal Government needed to outlaw gambling websites and to rake in millions of dollars in fines and seizures amid charges of illegal activities and money laundering.

Rather than dealing with the problems faced by players exposed to rogue sites and helping people deal with their addictions, the act merely availed the government of a means to indict operators who chose to risk accepting US players.

The Reality

The reality is that legalising gambling on the Internet will not change anything as far as problem gamblers are concerned, since those that want to engage in it are already doing it at unlawful and unregulated sites. What it will change is the way in which those players are protected from scams and rogue sites.

By regulating legalised sites, the State authorities have the power to ensure their citizens are playing at verified and trustworthy sites. This has to be far better for the welfare of players than refusing to regulate and legislate and thereby creating the environment for a black market in unregulated gambling sites that people will play at because they don't have regulated alternatives.

As far as the argument for playing at real; casinos or virtual alternatives goes, it can be likened to watching a movie. You can choose to go to a cinema or watch it at home on a DVD player. People still flock to the cinemas despite the convenience and availability of the home version, so casinos can take heart that they may not lose out to quite the extent they are currently grumbling they might.