April 18, 2017

online gambling banThere are a lot of crazy things happening in the world lately. Every day we seem to wake up with even more bad news than the day before. A lot of it seems to be centered around Donald Trump and his government (sigh) and this latest piece of news is no different. According to various news sources, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions has called for a federal ban on all state-regulated online gambling ventures across the entire country.

Yes, you read that right. This guy wants to ban online gambling in all 50 states. This startling piece of news is a new chapter in a long battle between the US government and online gambling. But how could such a ban, if it is put in place, affect players in the UK?  The answer: in more ways than you might think.

Online Gambling in the USA

stars and stripesThe United States Government has had a turbulent history with online gambling. While we here in the UK have embraced it, allowing users to gamble as much as they please under heavy regulation, the US have been on-and-off about letting their citizens have such easy access to gambling exploits (while apparently still being a-okay with brick-and-mortar casinos).

In 2011, for example, the US online gambling market was reopened when a new law passed allowing individual states (which have a huge say in their own laws) to legalise online gambling in their boundaries. Thus far, New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware have swept up the opportunity to open up the market and have a regulated gambling service open to all its citizens (over a certain age, of course). Other states have entertained the idea of doing the same but have so far not taken any action.

This does not mean, however, that people haven't been trying to stop it. Since the lift of the so-called ‘Wire Act', campaign and lobby groups have called for it to be reinstated with the desired effect of outlawing online gambling entirely, meaning every state would have to close the online gambling market. One writer at the Huffington Post claimed that Congress would seriously consider such a ban despite the apparent lack of public support and protests from the National Governors Association.

Why Do Americans Hate Online Gambling?

shrugSo, having read all that, you're probably wondering what beef the US has with online gambling in the first place. How could a country, that has some of the most famous places to gamble in the world, possibly want to impose a ban on it? The exact origins of this prejudice seem somewhat foggy and perceptions of gambling as a whole probably change from state-to-state.

Generally speaking, however, America tends to view gambling in a more negative light than we do. If US media is anything to go by, many believe it to be a destructive vice on the same levels as smoking and alcohol. We are, after all, talking about the same nation that made prohibition a thing. It may depend if you live in the Bible Belt or not but if you're American, you've probably been taught how much of a sin gambling is and that it should be avoided at all costs.

While it's not up to us to question another country's decisions to put through its own laws, we do have to wonder what exactly this ban could possibly achieve. A consultant in the US's regulated gambling market has even told publications like the Huffington Post that nothing good can come of it. Not only would thousands of jobs be at risk but it would cease the creation of thousands more and hugely impact tax income revenue for those States that have chosen to legalise online gambling.

How This Will Affect UK Players

uk flag outlineOn the surface, this may just appear to be America's problem. How could a ban in the US on online gambling possibly have any impact on UK players? Well, if you consider how much influence America has across the world (political as well as cultural) this could indicate a steeper decline in the general perception of gambling not just across the pond but over here as well. The process will be slow and hard to recognise but it could happen, considering how many people's perceptions of reality are already shaped by much of American media anyway.

The more tangible effects, however, will be largely economic. America will lose some of its tax income thanks to gamblers seeking illegal off-shore casinos sites to play on. Also, casinos online that currently operate in both the UK and the US will likely suffer losses in revenue and therefore lose money. Less money for a casino means less money for them to spend on exciting things like new promotions and games.

While it most likely won't have a massive impact on the US as a whole (remember, most states don't allow online gambling anyway) the ban could make illegal online gambling more fashionable, creating a negative impact by spreading overseas and eventually affecting UK players. And on a more basic, political level, this already adds to the confusion of a government already in turmoil since the election of Trump. We're just sitting here with our fingers crossed hoping it'll not go through.