Is it Time for the South to Accept Online Gambling?
Online gambling has become a massively popular pastime across many countries. Many of us don’t have the luxury (or budget) for a weekend getaway to Las Vegas, and online casinos are a worthy substitute—if not a little better than the real thing.
Casino lovers can gamble and play their favourite games from their own homes and on their mobile devices, making convenience the main reason why so many people flock online to bet. But not only that, the games are better, faster and more engaging than ever before thanks to advances in digital technology.
Despite its rapid growth in popularity worldwide, online gambling is still subject to strict rules and regulations across the Southern U.S. This is in spite of the fact that most generations of Americans—including Native Americans before European settlers arrived—have taken part in gambling activities of some kind. It’s without doubt one of the great traditions of the U.S.
Online gambling laws in the South
So, if people have always loved staking money on casino and slot games, why does gambling remain largely restricted in the Deep South—and is it time to change these gambling laws?
The state of Nevada is America’s casino and gambling hub. But, if you venture further down to Texas, for example, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to even enjoy a game of Texas Hold ‘Em without getting yourself on the wrong side of the law.
Betting on games of chance is prohibited, and this law also includes any online gambling. However, there are some “exceptions” to the rule. For example, you can legally bet on things like greyhound dog racing and horse racing. Other, more social-based games are also allowed, including bingo and raffles.
The economic impact of a restricted gambling sector
The Southern U.S. is doing itself no favors with these restrictions because it’s no secret that gambling and betting are great for the economy. Both activities offer a night of entertainment mixed with social engagement and fun, attracting tourists and local gamers alike, stimulating economic growth.
And while gambling operators must turn a profit to stay in business, they hand a large wad of this to the government as part of their taxes. For example, $383 million was spent at racetracks in Texas last year—and the tax revenues from this were invested in public services such as hospitals, schools and transport.
But looking at other countries, the economic benefits could be a whole lot better if gambling of all forms was legalized. Canada is a perfect example of a nation that has benefited highly from its more relaxed online gambling laws and regulations. Most forms of gambling are permitted across the country since 1969 when the Criminal Code was changed to legalize regulated lotteries for residents and visitors.
Online gambling has been proven to boost the UK economy too, supplying over 106,366 British people with employment and generating a massive £13.9 billion in total gross gambling yield. Online gambling brought in one-third of this revenue—making it the largest single gaming sector.
In 2017, the National Lottery contributed a staggering £1.5 billion of its profits to charitable causes that have, in turn, helped to change the lives of millions of people in need.
With the UK economy flourishing thanks in large part to the popularity of online gambling, and black market sports betting apparently worth around $150 billion, it’s hard not to wonder just how much the Southern U.S. is missing out on due to strict gambling rules and regulations.
Why online gambling is great for the Southern U.S.
If Americans in the Southern states want to enjoy a game of poker or try their luck at a slot machine, they’ve got to catch a flight to a different state and city such as Oklahoma or Louisiana—massively inconvenient, especially for people short on time.
And Southern gamers are completely left out in the cold when it comes to the exciting world of online games. Players in countries where online gambling is legal have an unlimited collection of their favorite games available at the click of a button—from the convenience of their own home, or if they’re on the move.
The variety on offer is impressive. Live Casino is the pinnacle of gambling technology, linking up players with real-life dealers over the web, via a video and audio stream. It gives players that human experience they may get in a land-based venue, but in their own living room. They can also play along with their mobiles wherever they are, even if they’re out camping, for example.
And then there’s the huge range of virtual “one-armed bandits.” Wink Slots, a leading online operator, offers a huge range of slots such as Starburst, Rainbow Riches and Temple of Iris. They even provide traditional casino games such as European Roulette and Multihand Blackjack.
Land-based casinos suffer at the hands of online casinos—there’s no doubt about that. Just look at the likes of Vegas, which is reporting a decline in visitor numbers year on year.
After all, spending the evening relaxing in your own home enjoying your favorite games often sounds more appealing than having to travel far and wide to your nearest casino, right? It seems that players across the world agree, as they’re heading online in droves, and the global gambling market is predicted to be worth a staggering $495 billion by 2019.
But the decreasing popularity of land-based venues due to the surge in online gambling could actually be good news for the South. It could act as a deterrent for more land-based venues to be built, meaning less construction and less carbon emissions.
Should the South legalize online gambling?
Many people living in the Southern U.S. have expressed their desire for gambling laws to be lifted. They want to be able to enjoy a game of poker or pull the lever on a slot machine without having to pack their bags and travel to an entirely different state. Not to mention, reducing gambling restrictions could generate an additional $3 billion for each two-year budget cycle, which could be a massive help to the economy. It seems that only time can tell whether the Southern U.S. will eventually legalize online gambling, but here’s to hoping.