Gaming of any kind has been around for almost as long as humans have. In fact, the first card games can be traced all the way back to the 9th Century. It should therefore come as no surprise that iGaming has taken the gaming industry by storm. You no longer have to be in a casino to play a game of poker, you can now play wherever you are from a phone or any other device (as long as you’re connected to the internet).
But it hasn’t always been as easy to play games online. Due to previously strict gambling laws, it used to be pretty difficult to play your favorite games anywhere other than a bricks and mortar casino – and even then, there were lots of hoops to jump through.
Gambling laws through the ages
Prior to the American Revolution, there weren’t any laws involved when it came to gambling. It was a much loved pastime and was played amongst people of all classes and genders. In fact, one of the most famous gamblers in the 19th century was a woman called Carlotta ‘Lotte Deno’ Thompkins. She learned how to gamble from her father and eventually went on play all across the country.
Laws on gambling didn’t start to come into effect until there was a massive backlash against gambling at the end of the 19th century. Instead of being able to gamble in casinos on land, casino owners were forced onto the rivers. This was the start of the riverboat casinos that would be the main casino hotspots until the 1950s.
Thanks to the gambling laws in Nevada being thrown out and Las Vegas developing at a colossal rate since the end of World War II, the gambling industry began to thrive.
New Jersey quickly followed in the footsteps of Nevada by legalizing gambling in Atlantic City in 1977. The popularity of Atlantic City snowballed and became a huge tourist attraction for gamers and non-gamers alike. By the 1990s, gambling was quickly legalized in other states and the popularity of gaming began to boom all over the country. But it was the introduction of the internet that really turned the gaming industry on its head.
iGaming and its effect on gambling laws
When the internet was first introduced to the world, there wasn’t much thought about how to regulate it. And as it became commonplace for a lot of people to have a computer in the home, lawmakers had to think fast. This brought about the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 which made it illegal to bet on sports in many states.
iGaming was quickly made illegal in the US but that didn’t stop gaming sites overseas being used by American gamers. Simply visiting a site from abroad allowed American gamers to continue playing while not strictly breaking the law. This allowed gaming sites across the globe to benefit from the strict American gaming laws while the American economy missed out. But the money being made by online gaming was difficult to ignore. This is one of the reasons why the American government decided to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018. As the decriminalization spreads through the country, there are now more people than ever joining in the fun. According to the Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker, the gaming revenue just from the month of May 2022 hit a massive $5.03 billion. This is a record for the month and the second highest month in recorded history to be made from gaming.
What has influenced these changes in gambling laws?
There are many reasons why there has been a rapid change of heart when it comes to gambling laws. The main one, of course, being the financial benefits that come with such a massive source of revenue.
Despite the introduction of the internet not making the changes in gaming laws you would expect at the time, the influx of smartphones definitely has. Most people now have a smartphone with them at all times or at least limited access to one. This makes it easier for people to game on the go and also a lot more difficult for the government to regulate.
There is also just more access to the internet in general. When the internet first filtered into our homes, it would have not been easily accessible for everyone. However, as of 2018, 92% of adults have access to the internet and that number is unlikely to decrease.
Once sports betting was legalized back in 2018, it was only a matter of time before other forms of gaming and betting followed suit. There is now some form of legal gaming legislation in 48 out of the 50 states – the only ones not included being Hawaii and Utah. And with technology constantly improving and the induction of laws for both gamers and gaming outlets alike, safety is less likely to be a factor to keep people away.
iGaming is a flourishing industry that shows no sign of slowing down. With many countries having no laws on gambling other than to regulate them, it’s only a matter of time before the American gaming industry sees some changes of its own. With overseas sites currently taking all the gamers (and their money), a change in laws for online gaming is bound to happen within the next few years. For more unique articles, check out ancient stories and theories surrounding geomythology.