The US has a long and complex history with gambling. For the largest time, gambling activity has been severely restricted in the US, with the first restrictions dating back to 1769 when the British Crown introduced restrictions on gambling activity, fuelling tensions between England and the colonies.
Today, in modern day America, there have been several laws put in place and then redacted over the years that have restricted both physical gambling venues and online gambling activity. Since 2017, there has been significant progress with the easing of laws that have previously restricted the gambling industry.
Below, we’ll take a look at how the legalization of gambling in the US is allowing the country to reduce crime and racketeering.
The origins of gambling racketeering in the US
Gambling racketeering has roots in the early days of Vegas in which today’s Sin City built an intrinsic relationship with organized crime syndicates. Tales of organized crime in Vegas have even become the grounds for novels such as ‘The Green Felt Jungle’ which was published in 1963. The early mob days have also been portrayed in movies such as The Godfather and Casino.
While this literature may have extended the reality of the mob culture of Vegas, the reality was that the city was home to more than two dozen mafia families, with roots in Chicago. While the mob days may now mainly be over, many attribute the success of the casino capital to early mafia activity which funded the growth of casino venues.
Modern day gambling crime
While today’s gambling crimes may not be as elaborate as the mafia activity in Vegas in the 70’s, the illegalization of gambling activity across many states has only increased crime by encouraging those involved in gambling to go underground to remain undetected from local authorities.
As such, illegal gambling venues have become hotspots for money laundering and related criminal activities that happen in the modern world. In addition, ordinary citizens who are wanting to access gambling games are often unwittingly engaging in illegal activity without meaning to.
How could the legalization of gambling help?
While there are some studies that show a correlation between physical casinos and increased crime rates, these studies also show that the economic and community benefits of casinos outweigh these downfalls.
One study shows that the legalization of gambling in several states across the US helped to boost economic activity by creating extra revenue that could be channeled into the community, as well as providing many jobs for people in the local area. It could be argued that these benefits to the community help to reduce crime rates, outweighing any criminal effects associated with casinos.
The rise in online gambling
Before gambling began to become legalized in 2017, many people would take to online gambling sites to play their favorite online casino games. One of the most popular online gambling activities has been sports betting, in which players have the opportunity to get involved in their favorite live games.
Many people across the US accessed offshore online casinos with the belief that this activity was not illegal as the providers were offshore. Authorities cracked down on this by banning US based banking authorities from processing such transactions.
However, it was the lapse of such tight restrictions across many states after 2017 that helped to reduce illegal activity by enabling citizens to participate in online gambling activities safely. As these activities became legal, they also became more regulated, meaning the gambling environment became more genuine and less about organized crime.
The future of gambling in the US
As of April 2021, the gambling landscape has drastically changed across the US and while there are still a number of states where no legalization for any kind of gambling is in place, the majority of states have some sort of relaxation to gambling law which is helping the market to grow.
States such as Nebraska and Maryland have now completely legalized gambling activity, while many more states have made a number of exceptions for online gambling and particularly sports betting in which the US sports betting market is now thriving.
While the US remains behind compared to the likes of Macau, Monaco, and the UK, it’s becoming more and more known as a gambling tourist hotspots as the market continues to improve. What’s more, the benefits introduced by gambling to local communities are helping to change attitudes that developed towards gambling in the Vegas mafia days, in which today’s gambling activities have completely transformed compared to what they once were. Overall, the US has a complex history with gambling laws in which many laws have been introduced and redacted over the years. However, one thing is clear, that the legalization of gambling across the US has far more benefits in terms of helping local communities to thrive and recipe crime, than any drawbacks it potentially has.