Many Nevada-based casino operators that own some of the most well-known brands in the industry may have caught a break with online gaming. U.S. casinos have had to sit back and watch the multi-billion dollar online gaming industry explode, without them getting a piece of the action. However, this may change.
Operating online-based casinos is currently illegal under United States law. New legislation has been proposed to punish foreign companies that have significantly profited by accepting bets from U.S. players. The idea is to help U.S. casinos improve their profits as less foreign gaming sites may now allow Americans. In turn more gamblers will visit land-based casinos.
Recently, the House Financial Services Committee passed a bill legalizing and regulating online gaming. Attached to the bill are amendments that prevent current online operators that are violating U.S. laws from obtaining a license under the new bill. For instance, one section prohibits those individuals that continued to operate or work for illegal online casinos from obtaining a license.
Another amendment allows the Treasury Department to outsource the regulation of the industry to state government agencies. Many states currently regulate land-based gaming operations so they have vast experience in the field. Also, delegating this responsibility to state agencies would eliminate a potential federal bureaucracy.
The restrictions of the bill were primarily supported by conservatives and moderates that are opposed to online gaming. They feel those that operated and participated in illegal casinos were committing a criminal act. Although advertised in the U.S., many of the popular poker brands are still illegal to play online. Currently, online gaming sites operate offshore so they don’t pay U.S. taxes.
This law would prohibit two of the world’s largest poker sites, PokerStars.net and FullTilt.com, from obtaining a gaming license. This would pave the way for land-based casinos like Harrah’s to create new gaming options. Harrah’s currently owns the World Series of Poker franchise. If the law passes, it would become difficult for those online gaming entities that current accept bets from Americans to legally operate.
Many of the controls in the bill mirror Las Vegas rules. These include:
- Conducting background checks of owners and managers
- Financing must be from a reputable source
- Licensed operators must have integrity and good character
Online gaming sites have been pushing for a law similar to this to be passed for many years. If this is passed by the House of Representatives, U.S. land-based casinos will enter the market. This will have an excellent effect on the economy since the American dollar will remain in the U.S.