Is regulation of the gambling industry able to bring USA economy back into the black following coronavirus?

Despite facing the highest number of Covid-19 related deaths in the world, President Trump continues to do all he can in order to reopen USA for business. Trump needs to reopen the economy due to the threat of an upcoming recession.

The gambling industry - US regulation
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From huge industries such as car manufacturers with thousands of employees to small local businesses with only one or two employees, Trump wants them all to reopen. It is no secret that the world is expected to face the biggest recession since the Great Depression in 1929 and with an upcoming presidential election set for the end of this year, President Trump is under pressure to keep his job.

One of President Trump’s biggest bragging points to date has always been the performance of the stock market since he was inaugurated. Unfortunately, he has now found out that this can be a dangerous game, especially when confronted with something as unpredictable as a global pandemic. You can check out President Trump’s stock market scorecard here which shows a mixed rating at best. Without the stock market, it is unclear what Trump will now be able to brag about.

If USA and indeed the world are faced with a recession following Covid-19 then it will be curious to find out what President Trump (or President Biden’s) plans are to reignite the economy. Hard austerity measures will crush any president’s approval rating so the next president will have to find a balance.

One way in which any incumbent president would be able to boost the economy is by regulating the online gambling industry.

How will regulating online gambling boost the American economy?

Without going through all the complicated online gambling laws which President George W Bush introduced in the early 2000s (you can read for yourself here) online gambling in the USA is, for all intents and purposes, illegal. Although several US states have legalised some forms of online gambling in recent years, mostly sports betting, the truth of the matter is that the US treasury could earn a fortune in extra taxes per year simply by regulating the online gambling market across all US states.

A variety of countries in Europe, including the United Kingdom have had legalised online gambling markets for almost two decades now and have reaped the benefits from it. The UK gambling market is worth several billion pounds per year. In 2017/18, the UK government netted £2.9 billion in gambling duties as all gambling sites in the UK must pay a 15% levy on their earnings. The USA gambling market is therefore an unused treasure chest of riches.

Can America learn from the Canadian online gambling market?

Historically speaking, Canadian gambling laws were very strict. Prior to the 1970s, only extremely limited forms of gambling were allowed. In the 1970s, the reformed criminal code allowed the opening of numerous land-based casinos in the country.

From an online gambling perspective, online casinos are available to be played at by Canadian citizens. However, the casinos must be approved by the Canadian government. This has two benefits:

  • Firstly, the Canadian government are able to bring in more tax revenue from gambling profits which they can then spend on improving their countries infrastructure etc.
  • Secondly, it means that the government will be enabled to ensure that the online casinos they approve are completely safe to play on. Unregulated online gambling industries create a variety of unsolicited casinos which may not be safe to play on.

However, there is a grey area when it comes to Canadian online gambling law. Legal online casinos that are based overseas still allow Canadian players to use their gambling sites. This is not dangerous for any Canadian players; it just means that the Canadian government is potentially missing out on gambling tax revenue.

The Canadian online casino PlayFrank can be played by Canadian players as well as by players from Europe. PlayFrank has a license from the UK Gambling Commission so they are a perfectly safe casino for all players. However, the Canadian government are missing out on tax revenue by not taking advantage of the online casino industry in their country.

That being said, any Canadian gambler who does wish to gamble online has nothing to worry about other than ensuring they find a safe online casino to play on.

How could USA regulate their own market?

Simply by legalising online casino gambling for Americans and creating a law which only allows Americans to gamble via American based online casinos. The land-based casino lobby is unsurprisingly doing what it can to keep Americans gambling in their own land-based casinos. However, this is short sighted, those casino companies themselves could earn a small fortune by moving their casino brands online.

The US treasury could easily generate tens of billions of USD per year by opening the US online gambling market. Some states have begun to legalise sports betting recently but overall if Americans want to gamble online, they have to travel to either Europe or Canada.

Overall, it is unlikely that the next US president will regulate the industry. There will be a huge amount of red tape to go through. It is more likely that the market will become more and more open and regulated on a state by state basis. States who do regulate and tax the industry will generate a huge amount of money though. So, if the US does find itself in a recession, regulating the market will be a good way in which to generate revenue. US citizens are also likely to be allowed to gamble from their home too.


Interesting related article: “What are games of chance?