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Five Years Post-PASPA: The Spread of Legal Sports Betting in the USA

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Five years ago, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was repealed by the Supreme Court, kicking off one of the fastest periods of gambling legalization ever seen in the USA.

The repeal of PASPA, which had prevented all but a handful of states from regulating sports betting, started a revolution in real money betting that has forever changed the US gambling industry.

Five years later, it’s time to look back at how the market has developed and the legal, economic, and social effects of this monumental change.

The Context: The Downfall of PASPA

PASPA was a federal law that came into effect in 1992. It included all states except Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware, which were excluded because their laws already had sports betting provisions.

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PASPA outlawed sports betting in all other states, effectively banning it nationwide. This didn’t mean that sports betting wasn’t happening; it was just an underground, offshore activity.

PASPA remained in force until May 2018, when the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional. This was thanks almost entirely to the efforts of New Jersey, under the leadership of Governor Chris Christie, who brought the legal challenge after trying to legalize online sports betting in 2011 and 2014. New Jersey argued that part of PASPA violated the anti-commandeering doctrine (the tenth amendment), which, in overly simple terms, prevents the federal government from coercing states to adopt or enforce federal laws.

The District Court first heard New Jersey’s case, then the Third Circuit, with both ruling against them. However, upon appeal, the case was heard by the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) on May 14th, 2018. SCOTUS agreed that PASPA violated the anti-commandeering principle, rescinding the entire act and stating that PASPA was meant to work as a whole, meaning that if part of it was not legally viable, the whole act must be struck down.

Legal Outlook: 38 States Legal, 12 To Go

With PASPA gone, each state now had the right to decide whether to legalize sports betting, with a majority opting to. As of November 2023, 38 states have said yes, passing new laws that allow retail sports betting. Online sports betting is also available in 26.

There are 12 states left to legalize. Three of them (South Carolina, Alabama, and California) face strong opposition, and the remaining nine are looking to introduce bills in the 2024/2025 legislative sessions. North Carolina and Minnesota are tipped to be the next to join the fray, and Oklahoma introduced a new proposal two months ago.

The legal landscape remains complex, with different rules, regulators, and taxation regimes in each state. On top of this, in certain locations, the presence of tribal gaming compacts has conflicted with commercial interests (the ongoing case of Florida sports betting and tribal opposition in California serve as perfect examples).

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Growth of Online Casinos – Not Going As Planned

While there was no guarantee, many industry experts and commentators hoped that the legalization of sports betting would soon be followed by online casino regulation. However, thus far, only six states have legalized online casinos: New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia, and Connecticut, the latest to join the ranks, passing HB 6451 in 2021. Since then, there’s been no further movement for online casinos.

Players outside the mentioned states may only use land-based casinos or free social gaming sites where available. Sweepstakes casinos are also available across the country, Idaho and Washington aside. As a legitimate gaming option, sweepstakes are taking the US by storm, but just like with real online casinos, players should use a review site to find the best options.

As sweepstakes casinos don’t require a license in the USA, expert advice such as Casino Cabbie’s Wow Vegas Online Casino Review highlights any security issues and the benefits and pitfalls of each site as well before players sign up, making them an invaluable resource.

Economics: More Than $220 Billion Spent On Sports Betting Since 2018

One of the biggest drivers of sports betting legalization is the promise of potential tax revenue. The US sports betting industry is enormous, and since 2018, more than $220 billion has been spent on wagers, contributing over $3 billion in state taxes. The revenue earned by states has been instrumental in funding local projects and new initiatives, as well as responsible gambling research and support.

More in-depth and up-to-date research focusing on the exact economic contribution of sports betting is thin on the ground, and the last comprehensive study by Oxford Economics was published in 2017. At the time, it detailed that the entire sports betting industry created over 216,671 jobs.

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Due to the lack of current data, we’re left to turn to figures charting the impact of the entire gambling industry, which includes casinos and sports betting. According to statistics from the American Gaming Association in 2022, US gambling is a powerhouse industry, creating, in total, 1.8 million US jobs, with $104.2 billion in wages (these figures include the entire supply chain).

There can be no argument that over the last five years, US sports betting has been a substantial economic contributor, helping state governments recover from COVID-19, creating jobs, and stimulating economic growth.

Social: 77% of American Adults Support Legalization in their State

Legally and economically, things have changed rapidly in the States since the repeal of PASPA, but what about the social impacts?

Research shows that 85% of Americans think the removal of PASPA was correct, with 77% now supporting sports betting legalization in their state. Moreover, the number of Americans open to placing sports bets has grown by 24 million since 2019. With many enjoying the newly legal betting options available to them, public attitudes towards gambling as a whole have seemingly softened.

With many states also benefiting from increased government budgets brought through sports betting tax revenue, it’s important to recognize the benefits this has made to social provisions. Many states have used the influx to contribute more money to education funds and other social causes, like reducing homelessness.

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A proportion of the money is also used to fund state problem gambling assistance, with many running state-based hotlines and counseling services. Nonetheless, in many cases, this funding is not enough to offset the increased rates of gambling harms caused by legalization.

Future Outlook: Challenges and Concerns

Looking forward, the US online sports betting industry has a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.33% for 2023-2027, meaning there’s much more to come. However, this rapid growth will lead to some challenges.

Offshore gambling has been a considerable issue for the legal sports betting market. In 2022, The American Gaming Association estimated that Americans wagered $63.8 billion with illegal bookies, costing $3.8 billion in lost gaming revenue and $700 million in state taxes.

 

While offshore gambling is reducing, the latest data shows that 77% of online sports bets are now placed through regulated operators, compared to just 44% in 2019. However, things are not all rosy, and 48% of those who bet offshore believe they are placing legal wagers.

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Gambling addiction also poses a considerable threat to the sustainability of the entire US gambling industry, with some states recently reporting problem gambling rates over 6%, which is three times the national average (to contextualize this figure better, the UK has a problem gambling rate of 0.2%). High rates of problem gambling twinned with rapid growth potentially represent a ticking time bomb that could rock the entire US industry.

 

It’s undoubtedly been an incredible five years for US bettors and sportsbooks; as a newer gambling market, the US must now look to more mature gambling jurisdictions to see what player protection methods work best and implement them sooner rather than later.

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MGM Resorts International and Playtech Announce Strategic Partnership

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Playtech and MGM Resorts International announced a strategic partnership that will offer new and unique live casino content to operators in the iGaming industry.

Streamed directly from the gaming floors of two of MGM Resorts’ most iconic Las Vegas Strip properties, the live casino content, branded as “MGM Live,” will be available for licensing in regulated markets worldwide, outside of the US.

The live casino offering will include single and double-zero roulette and baccarat games. These games will be broadcast live from the casino floors at both MGM Grand and Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

As the partnership evolves, the plan is to broaden the portfolio with exclusive access to a variety of Playtech games, branded TV game shows, celebrity-hosted trivia shows, and the one-of-a-kind entertainment experiences for which Las Vegas and MGM Resorts are known.

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“The launch of this new and exciting live casino offering, in partnership with Playtech and directly from Bellagio and MGM Grand in Las Vegas, furthers our strategic vision to be the world’s premier gaming entertainment company. This collaboration amplifies our commitment to providing unparalleled experiences and expands our global reach to our customers. We believe the content, celebrity talent and sophisticated gaming experience that we will offer – all from the trusted and highly reputable brands of MGM Resorts – will be unmatched in the industry,” Bill Hornbuckle, CEO and President of MGM Resorts, said.

“We are thrilled to partner with MGM Resorts, a world-renowned gaming and entertainment brand. This alliance combines the strength of MGM Resorts’ global prestige with Playtech’s extensive international market knowledge and innovative games. As a leading technology provider in regulated markets, we are delighted that this partnership is pioneering a new live entertainment category and product offering for players in these regulated territories. Our alliance is built on a shared vision to create an innovative and unique customer experience alongside our commitment to safer gambling. Both Playtech and MGM Resorts are dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of player protection and ensuring our offerings are enjoyed responsibly,” Mor Weizer, Chief Executive Officer at Playtech, said.

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Compliance Updates

NJ Governor Murphy Establishes Task Force to Support Responsible Gaming

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has signed Executive Order No. 360, establishing a Responsible Gaming Task Force responsible for providing advice and recommendations to the Governor’s Office and to the Attorney General regarding reforms to support responsible gaming and to address problem gambling in New Jersey.

A rise in problem gambling has been observed over the past few years, according to a 2023 report from the Rutgers University Center for Gambling Studies. The Rutgers study estimated that 6% of New Jersey residents are at high risk for problem gambling, which is significantly higher than the national average of 1-2%, with the highest rates affecting Black/African American or Hispanic residents.

“New Jersey is known to be a gaming destination with historic locations like Atlantic City, amusement gaming at the Jersey Shore, notable horse racing venues, and more. This Task Force will see to it that we maintain our global leadership in gaming by ensuring that we have the tools needed to address problem gaming for our residents,” said Governor Murphy.

“I applaud Governor Murphy for his leadership in elevating responsible gaming initiatives through the establishment of a statewide task force. New Jersey has been a national leader in casino and sports wagering for many years, and we owe it to our residents to review and expand our existing efforts on problem gambling. This task force demonstrates that ‘responsible gaming’ is not merely a buzzword in New Jersey, but a critical issue that demands the attention of government entities, industry, and stakeholders. As Chair of the task force, I’m eager to get underway in examining ways to help bring attention to and support the prevention and treatment of gambling disorder,” said Attorney General Platkin.

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The responsibilities of the Responsible Gaming Task Force will be to review several areas of the problem gambling landscape, including the effects on underage and vulnerable communities; develop strategies to achieve responsible gaming; and make recommendations for policy changes to address the issue of problem gambling.

Members of the Task Force will consist of seven government representatives or their designees, including:

The Attorney General, who shall serve as Chair;

The Chair of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission;

The Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs;

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The Director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement;

The Director of the Division of State Lottery;

The Executive Director of the New Jersey Racing Commission; and

The Commissioner of the Department of Human Services.

The Task Force may consult with experts, representatives of regulated entities, or other knowledgeable individuals in the public or private sector with respect to any aspect of its mission.

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Interblock Gaming Installs its Award-winning Smart Pit at Boomtown Casino Biloxi

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Interblock Gaming, the developer and supplier of luxury Electronic Table Games (ETGs), has installed its award-winning Smart Pit at Boomtown Casino Biloxi, a PENN Entertainment Inc. property.

This state-of-the-art gaming setup, prominently positioned at the casino’s entrance, went live on Tuesday, June 11.

To celebrate the innovative addition, Boomtown Casino Biloxi will host a Grand Opening event on Thursday, June 27 from 3 pm to 5 pm. The event will feature delicious hors d’oeuvres, exciting giveaways, and a variety of activities for guests to enjoy. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 3:30 pm, marking the official launch of the Smart Pit.

“We are thrilled to partner with Boomtown Casino Biloxi for the launch of our Smart Pit technology. This installation marks a significant milestone in our mission to revolutionize the gaming experience, combining advanced technology with traditional gaming elements to enhance both player engagement and operational efficiency,” John Connelly, CEO of Interblock, said.

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The Smart Pit at Boomtown Casino Biloxi provides players with an unmatched gaming experience, featuring Live Craps, Dual Roulette, and two Blackjack tables. This cutting-edge setup merges the excitement of traditional table games with the advantages of sophisticated technology. The chip-less technology ensures seamless play and accurate payouts. Players can anticipate immersive gameplay with interactive dealer experiences, a variety of side bets, and the thrill of participating in multiple games simultaneously. The Smart Pit is designed to appeal to both seasoned players and newcomers, guaranteeing a captivating and enjoyable gaming experience for all.

Barry Regula, VP and GM of Boomtown Casino Biloxi, said: “We are excited to launch Boomtown’s EZ Play Zone, powered by Interblock’s Smart Pit solution. The EZ Play Zone offers our guests the convenience and flexibility of wagering electronically on Blackjack, Roulette, and Craps while still having the fun and camaraderie of interacting with a real dealer and other guests.”

Interblock’s Live Craps transforms the traditional game by allowing players to step into the shooter’s role, adding the excitement of live dice recognition for a truly immersive experience. Dual Roulette heightens the action with two synchronized, color-coded wheels, offering up to 120 spins per hour for a fast-paced and engaging game. For Blackjack enthusiasts, the Smart Pit tables include a variety of thrilling side bets, making each hand more exciting and interactive than ever before. This innovative setup allows players to enjoy more game time, quicker rounds, and smarter gameplay, redefining their casino experience.

“Once again, PENN Entertainment’s properties on the Gulf Coast are proud to be the first to offer cutting-edge gaming technology with the first regional installation of an integrated Smart Pit suite. In addition to being the first to offer linked multi-property table games baccarat progressive jackpots and the first property in Mississippi to offer cashless gaming at Hollywood Gulf Coast, we are now the first property outside of Las Vegas to offer Smart Pit blackjack, roulette, and craps,” Tosha Tousant, VP of Casino Operations at Boomtown, said.

“The launch of Smart Pit at Boomtown Casino Biloxi showcases our commitment to transforming the gaming landscape. By integrating advanced technology with classic table games, we are setting a new industry standard. This innovation is a game-changer that both players and dealers will enjoy,” Jeff Kowalchuk, SVP of Innovation at Interblock, said.

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The Smart Pit also enhances the dealer experience, making operations more intuitive and streamlined. The system’s dealer console provides clear instructions, reducing the need for extensive training and enabling a broader hiring pool. Dealers can manage multiple games simultaneously, increasing efficiency and player interaction. This user-friendly approach ensures that new dealers can quickly adapt and thrive in a dynamic casino environment.

Mandy Ladner, VP of HR at Boomtown Casino Biloxi, said: “Smart Pit opens the door to new potential team members who may have been intimidated by the handling of cash, chips, and the requirement to perform real-time calculations as a ‘live’ dealer. Now, if you are interested in a career in the fun, fast, and social environment of the casino, you don’t need months of dealer’s school and practice to break in, just a great personality and desire to entertain and delight our guests.”

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