In the United States, each state sets their own laws around what type of online and land-based gambling is allowed. In the state of California, online casinos, online sportsbooks, and online poker gambling are all currently illegal.
This is despite gambling being a very profitable industry in some states. In Nevada, Las Vegas, casinos and gambling have been attracting visitors and bringing in huge revenues since the 1930s.
The construction of the Hoover Dam in 1931 coincided with a number of gambling outlets opening in Las Vegas, including The Northern Club, the Red Rooster and the casino at the Riverside Hotel. By the 1940s, the Vegas strip began to emerge and in the 1950s a tax on sports betting was introduced.
The gambling and casino industry in Nevada continued to blossom and in the 1960s gross gaming revenue reached $200,500,000 and by the 1980s gambling revenue skyrocketed to $2.5 billion per year. This has more than quadrupled in the past couple of decades. The rise in recent years can be attributed to the growth in virtual gambling, Nevada now has 13 legal sports betting sites.
With the success of this industry in Nevada, it is no surprise that other states are now changing legislation to legalize both online and land-based forms of gambling.
Online sports betting has recently been legalized in Colorado, Indiana Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Michigan, amongst others.
So, should the state of California follow suit? There are a whole range of benefits that the full legalisation of online gambling could bring to The Golden State. Here are some worth considering:
Tax revenues and other economic advantages to legalization
One of the most obvious economic benefits to legalizing online gambling in California is the opportunity for increased tax revenues. There is clearly a growing appetite for this form of entertainment in the US, so we could expect revenues to have a significant impact on the local economy.
It has been estimated that if online poker was legal in the state then California could net between $250 and $300 million dollars each year in revenue from gambling taxes. Gambling is generally taxed at a high rate compared to other types of entertainment.
There are also other avenues of income to consider. For example, gambling operators such as online casinos that wish to carry out business in the state would likely need to obtain a license. Part of the cost of these licenses would go to the government and potentially help to fund other important activities.
If online gambling organizations were to be set up within California to cater to the local market then we would also see new employment opportunities for people within the area. More employment also equals more tax revenues, particularly as the gambling industry tends to pay higher than average wages to workers.
Allowing online sports betting could even benefit local sports teams. Many large gambling organizations offer sponsorship to sports teams. This benefits the sports club by giving them another much needed source of income, while benefiting gambling operators through promotional opportunities and press activity.
Regulations will help to protect gamblers at risk of harm. Legalizing online gambling is in the best interests of those who enjoy participating in the activity. Even when gambling is not legal, there will always be some people who find ways of doing it regardless.
This can make gamblers at more risk of harm; unregulated sites can be associated with criminal activity and can mean the money and private data of its players is unprotected.
Legalization will give Californians access to better and more safe online gambling sites, meaning their experience will be even more enjoyable and secure.
Regulatory authorities are also responsible for preventing harmful gambling behavior and gambling addiction. They do this through ensuring operators abide by certain rules and standards, for example operators must put things in place to discourage gamblers from spending more than they can afford.
Regulators promote responsible gambling through targeted advertising and give players access to resources on how to stay safe and get access to help and advice if they so wish to. Without legalization and regulation problems gamblers may find it more difficult to improve their situation.
As more and more states in the United States move towards either full or partial legalization of gambling, it is time for California to keep up with the times and consider how outdated their current restrictions are.
Changes in legislation are likely to welcomed as a positive step forward by many citizens in the state. The economic and social benefits can already be witnessed in other areas of the country, so perhaps it is now time for California to get on the same page.