Best Real Money Online Casino Apps & Sites: Full USA Legal Online Casino Guide

Online Casinos are available in the United States. Find the top-rated real money online casinos in the United States. These online casinos are legal, real money, and regulated in at least one US State.

Casino
Lineups Rating
Bonus
Promo Code
Play Now
Editor's FavoriteBetMGM Casino Vert
$1,000 Bonus + $25 Bet
Risk-Free up to $1,000
Caesars Sportsbook And Casino 300x100 1
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FanduelCasino logo
$1,000 Play It Again + $100 Credit
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draftkingscasino
$2,000 Bonus + $25 bet
Deposit Match to $2,000 + $25 Free Bet
4.65
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WynnBetCasino logo 300
4.65
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betriverscasino
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Unibet Logo white300
$750 Bonus + $10
100% Deposit Bonus + $10
bet365 logo300
$1,000 Bonus
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Sugarhouse
$1,000 Bonus
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U.S. Top 10 Online Real Money Casinos In 2022

The U.S. is home to some of the world’s most iconic and successful casino brands that have changed the face of the gambling industry forever. Upon the rise of online gaming, most of them have developed online casino platforms with real money games to serve users in states that have legalized online casino play. Here is a look at our top ten favorite online real money casinos in the U.S.

BetMGM Casino

MGM International is one of the largest online gambling sites in the world. It has teamed up with Entain to offer a fantastic online sports betting, online poker, and online casino platform. The BetMGM casino games are wonderfully built and fun to play. BetMGM shines as having some of the very best promotions and return to player percentages in the online casino world. It is also equipped with MGM Rewards which lead to both online and real-life prizes.

Available in Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and West Virginia

BetMGM Casino

Caesars Casino

Caesars Entertainment is also one of the largest casino companies in the U.S. as it operates some of the world’s most prestigious casinos: Caesars Palace, Harrah’s, Horseshoe and Eldorado brands, and several others. Upon the buying of William Hill, it became even more relevant in the casino space especially by way of online casino gaming. It is known for huge promotions for users of all experience and its ultimate industry-leading Caesars Rewards loyalty program. 

Available in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey.

Caesars Casino App preview

FanDuel Casino

FanDuel is another platform that started out as a daily fantasy site. However, after Flutter Entertainment bought the majority of the company, FanDuel rose through the ranks as a top sportsbook and casino site. FanDuel has one of the best mobile applications out there when it comes to casino games. The app is aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate. On top of this, FanDuel consistently runs great existing-user promotions.

Available in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Connecticut, and Michigan.

FanDuel Casino

DraftKings Casino

DraftKings became famous with its daily fantasy application. However, the platform has moved to offer both online sports betting and online casino games. DraftKings has quickly become the king of the American online betting market as it reaches new heights every single month. DraftKings Online Casino is one of the best there is. The games work great, and the application, as well as the browser site, are extremely easy to use. Simply put, DraftKings’ elite platform is the reason it is leading the market right now.

Available in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Connecticut, and Michigan.

DraftKings Casino app preview

Golden Nugget Casino

Named New Jersey’s “Casino Operator of the Year” for 4 years running, Golden Nugget Online Casino offers a unique selection of online casino games for all players. It leads the casino market in New Jersey in several areas including slots and blackjack options and has a reputation for one having some of the highest returns in the industry.

Available in New Jersey, Michigan, and West Virginia. 

Golden Nugget Casino Games

WynnBet Casino

Wynn Resorts launched its online sports betting and casino brand WynnBet, in 2020 after years of operating some of the most prestigious land-based casinos in the world. This same prestige has carried into its online casino and sports betting platforms. It has varied itself from other online casino platforms through fun promotions, unique real money games, and excellent customer service. 

Available in Michigan and New Jersey.

WynnBet Casino Preview

BetRivers Casino

Online casino and sportsbook brand BetRivers is a subsidiary of Rush Street Interactive which also owns a near-identical company, PlaySugarHouse. BetRivers is considered a smaller player in the realm of the country’s top sportsbooks, but has garnered a reputation for high quality and ease of use. 

Available in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Michigan, and New Jersey.

BetRivers Casino

Unibet Casino

Unlike many of the other big operators in the U.S., Unibet got its start in Europe. Originally founded in London, Unibet went on to become one of the biggest gambling companies in Scandinavia and Europe before making its way to the U.S. It has now achieved a tremendous reputation for its portfolio of games and user-friendliness. It’s certainly a smaller player, but as it expands across the U.S. it will make a name for itself.  

Available in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. 

Unibet Casino Games

Bet365 Casino

UK-founded Bet365 is one of the biggest online sports betting and casino companies in the world. It leads the market in several parts of the world including Europe, Asia, and South America. It eventually found its way to New Jersey where it has begun its influence across the rest of the U.S. 

Available in New Jersey.

Betway Casino

Betway’s gambling services are world-renowned, available in 23 countries and most recently the U.S. where it is now focusing its efforts to become one of the country’s biggest gambling operators. It is owned and operated by Super Group, with former NFL executive Eric Grubman and former Cleveland Browns president John Collins in on the action. Betway has used these connections as a way to bolster their sportsbook, and their online casino is following suit.

Available in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Comparing Casinos & Promos

One of the best traditions, specifically in online gambling, is the welcome bonuses! And our top 10 casinos all have competitive welcome bonuses that help new users leverage their money in different ways. Most of them also have promotions for established users as well, but here are the welcome bonuses for our top 10 real money casinos:

BetMGM Casino

The welcome bonus for BetMGM Casino is a $1,000 100% deposit match and a deposit-free $25 bet. This offer is excellent, and the $25 free bet allows you to try out the casino before you commit to the big deposit to take advantage of the deposit bonus. The bonus has a 15x rollover requirement. 

BetMGM Casino PA Banner

Caesars Casino

Caesars’ welcome bonus offers perhaps the best option to leverage your money – upon signing up for Caesars Online Casino, users can redeem up to $2,000 on a deposit match bonus upon their first deposit. Rollover requirements are 4x on slots, 8x on video poker, and 20x for everything else. 

An alternative offer is available to players not wanting to play so big – in New Jersey and Michigan, Caesars gives new players a 200% deposit bonus up to $100 just for registering. 

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DraftKings Casino

DraftKings currently offers a $2,000 deposit match bonus as well as a $60 free bet to new users. There is no deposit needed for the $50 bonus. Meanwhile, the $2,000 match is valid on your first deposit, and DraftKings will double your initial deposit up to $2,000 of bonus cash.

DraftKings Casino Banner click for details

FanDuel Casino

FanDuel offers its new users a day of up to $1,000 if you are down after day one up to $1,000. This offer is valid for 24 hours after you sign up. All losses incurred in that time period will be reimbursed; the refund comes in the form of site credit with a 1x playthrough requirement. You will also get up to $100 in site credits spread out over $25 bets over four weeks. Make sure to take advantage of the bonus wager when using FanDuel’s online casino.

FanDuel Casino Promo Code

Golden Nugget Casino

New Golden Nugget Casino users will be eligible for a 100% deposit bonus up to $1,500. The online casino also offers a $10 free bet and 200 free spins, just for signing up, no deposit required. This is one of the best in the industry!

Golden Nugget Banner Casino PLAYBONUS $1500

WynnBet Casino

WynnBet offers a $1,000 match deposit bonus once you sign up for a WynnBet Casino account. Promotional offers vary by state and in Michigan, WynnBet will also award new users 200 free spins on Divine Fortune, on top of the deposit bonus. The bonus funds have a 10x rollover requirement on slots.  

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BetRivers Casino

BetRivers’ welcome bonus comes in the form of a $200 free bet after new users deposit $50 in their BetRivers Casino account. Most casinos make you roll bonus funds over several times before cashing out, so this is a rarity in the industry – take advantage! 

BetRivers Casino Promo

Unibet Casino

The welcome bonus for Unibet is a 100% deposit match up to $500 for all new users upon their first deposit with Unibet. Additionally, all new users will receive a free $10 to bet with just for signing up, no deposit required.  

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Bet365 Casino

New players at Bet365 are eligible to win a bonus up to $1,000 upon their first deposit with the Bet365 Online Casino.  

Bet365 New Jersey Casino Promo Banner

Betway Casino

Betway offers a 100% match up to $250 as a welcome bonus for its new users. New Betway users just have to make a minimum deposit of at least $10 to redeem this great welcome bonus.  

BETWAY PROMO CODE BANNER

Online Casino Games

The beauty of online casinos is that it allows users to play their favorite games, on the go! Whether it be online slots, online table games, or live dealer, this market has real money casino games for every type of player. 

Slots

Slot games occupy the largest percentage of the casino space. Some of the biggest casino brands in the world have thousands upon thousands of slot machines in its casinos. From basic slots to themed-machines, it’s also the most diverse among the casino games. While the payoff is usually a lot lower, it’s also much cheaper to play and there are chances to win millions of dollars on just one spin! Every current operator of an online casino offers some sort of online slots options. 

Caesars Casino Slots

Table Games

Some of the most classic table games to play at online casinos are blackjack, roulette, Texas Hold ‘em, baccarat, craps, and more. Popular online casinos like BetMGM and Caesars have tons of online table games available so users don’t have to wait for a seat at a virtual table, they can typically play right away!

Mohegan Tables Games

Video Poker

​​Video poker is one sector of the online casino industry that could probably be improved. While operators are certainly trying to penetrate the video poker market, it has proven difficult, and most operators usually have limited video poker options.  

Caesars Casino Video Poker

Live Dealer

Live dealer games seem to be all the rage in online casino and poker rooms these days. These games aim to place users right on the casino floor with the dealer despite them actually being behind a phone or computer screen. Depending on the operator, live dealer games often have specific playing hours and limited games in which it’s available for.  

Golden Nugget Live Dealer Black Jack

Real Money Online Casino Legal History

At one point in the 1990’s, online gambling was huge. MicroGaming, one of the world’s largest providers of online gambling software, was booming and technology was coming into the spotlight, paving the way for a lucrative online gambling market. However, in 2006, U.S. politicians passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) which effectively placed a federal ban on all withdrawal and deposit of money to and from online gambling sites. Because of the language of the bill, online gambling wasn’t technically illegal so much as processing payments for online gambling was. This marked the beginning of the “gray market” that we still refer to today. The gray market is where offshore sites like Bovada can operate without regulation.  

Several states have adopted legislation that specifically prohibits online gambing but several states have not, in which case they can join the very small online gambling market present in the U.S. today. Today, real money online casinos are legal in New Jersey, Michigan, Delaware, Connecticut, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.  

Eventually, these circumstances led to the overturning of the PAPSA in 2018 that effectively legalized sports betting in the U.S. and allowed states to regulate the activity within their borders. Sports betting is currently legal in over 30 states, and counting. While the UIGEA has not been overturned, the PAPSA reversal lends itself to the possibility of it in the future.  

US States With Real Money Online Casinos

There are six states in the U.S. who have specific legislation in place to legalize online casino games despite the UIGEA. The only other state that is close to doing so is Nevada, which has legalized online poker, but left online casinos out of its legislation. 

Delaware

Delaware, surprisingly, was the first state to legalize and regulate an online casino market in the U.S., beating both Nevada and New Jersey. The difference between Delaware and these states however is that Delaware’s three land-based racinos – Delaware Park, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway, are licensed to offer their own branded online gambling sites. In other words, no big commercial operators like DraftKings or Caesars operate in Delaware. 

New Jersey

Online casinos in New Jersey have been around since as far back as 2013, and there are dozens. From Golden Nugget to Caesars to BetMGM, New Jersey continues to be a gambling (online and in person) hot spot in the U.S. 

Pennsylvania

Online casino games are fully live and legal in Pennsylvania and have been since 2017. Currently there are 10 licensed land-based casinos in the state that legally offer online casino games to Pennsylvanians. Some of the most popular real money online casinos in the state include BetMGM, DraftKings, Caesars, FanDuel, BetRivers, and tons more.  

West Virginia

Online casinos are alive and well in West Virginia after its legalization in 2020. DraftKings was the first operator to get a license following its partnership with Hollywood Casino Charles Town. BetMGM, FanDuel, and Caesars followed suit, acquiring a license later that year. Connecticut was the fourth state to legalize online casino games behind New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.  

Michigan 

Michigan is home to fifteen online casino sites in the state which includes a mix of Michigan casino-branded online casinos and big commercial operators like BetMGM, FanDuel, and Caesars. Online gambling has been legal in Michigan since 2019 when lawmakers legalized online casinos, online poker, and sports betting on the same day.  

Connecticut

Connecticut only recently launched their online casino market in October of 2021, but operators still jumped fast to get licensing in the state. DraftKings and FanDuel have already been operating in the state but other big names like BetMGM and Golden Nugget are still awaiting approval.  

Upcoming States With Mobile Casinos

mobile sports betting iconIllinois is a frontrunner for states with the possibility and potential to penetrate the real money online casino market in the U.S. They introduced the Internet Gaming Act to legalize, but that has since stalled; while passage of legislation seems like a longshot in 2022, they are still poised to be one of the next few states who joins. Indiana is another state that industry experts have high hopes for, but they haven’t introduced new legislation in a while, and the last few bills they have introduced, failed.  

In terms of potential though, no markets would be more successful than California and New York. New York, having just launched their sports betting market, is by far the leader in the online sports betting sector and would likely have a similar experience if they launched online casinos. This is probably and possible in the next year given the success they’ve had since launching sports betting. California on the other hand, will likely be awhile, if ever. Given the climate between the tribes, the state, and commercial gambling operators throughout the last year, online gaming of any sort seems like a treacherous road. But there is no doubt with the market and population size of California that it would be a huge success.  

The Gray Market

The so-called “gray market” in the U.S. is huge, and it’s especially relevant in places where online casinos and sports betting are not legal. Residents of that state who want to participate but legislation does not allow them to, turn to gray market operators who are not regulated by the same gaming boards that legal operators are. The problem with this is that there is virtually nothing that anyone can do if these offshore books decide to close and take your money.  

The most popular gray market operator is Bovada. Bovada is not technically illegal or legal because it is not regulated by the U.S. however they have a questionable reputation. We do not recommend placing bets or giving any personal information to operators that are not licensed by the state in which they operate.

Online Casino FAQ

Are casinos legal in the United States?

Casinos are not legal nor illegal; however, instead, the legality of casino gaming is up to the states. This means that each state can decide if casinos, commercial, tribal, or otherwise, should be legal in their state. At this moment, the states are roughly split on this issue.

Are online casinos legal in the United States?

Online casinos fall into a very similar category as regular casinos. Each state has its own laws and regulations. The United States government does not have a federal ban on online casinos, but it is instead up to each state.

Who runs the gambling in California?

California casinos are run by the native tribes in the state. Currently, all the gambling, besides horse racing and a few card rooms, is run by these tribes. The California State Government has oversight over these tribal casinos, but there are no commercial casinos allowed.

Will New York legalize online casinos?

While New York has legalized online sports betting, there has not been much talk about the legalization of online casinos. There is no forward outlook on if New York will have online casinos available in the near future, like its neighbor New Jersey.

Is online poker legal in the United States?

Online poker is not legal under Federal Law; however, each state can decide to legalize itself. Online real-money poker was running rampant in the United States when the federal government came down on these sites. Now online real-money poker is only available in certain legalized states.

What online casino has the best welcome bonus?

DraftKings has the largest welcome bonus with a $2,000 deposit match + $85 free. That deposit match is at a 100% rate, meaning that the entire first deposit is matched dollar for dollar. You also get a $85 free bet with no deposit required.

How old do you have to be to play on an online casino?

In every state that has online casinos, the legal betting age is 21. There is no difference between the legal betting age for in-person casinos and online casinos. This means that you must be 21 years or older to make an online casino account and receive a welcome bonus.

Are online casino winnings taxable?

Yes, just like any winnings, the income you make on online casino games is taxable income. You will need to check your tax forms for the federal and state taxes on these winnings. However, to be clear, these winnings are similar to in-person casino winnings.

Are there online casino apps for Android phones?

Yes! The Google Play Store does not have online casino applications on its store. So you need to get the download link from the mobile browser site of the casino platform you would like to play with. There, you can download the app and then play.

What banking methods do online casinos use?

Each online casino and state has its own banking methods and rules. However, almost all online casinos accept deposits from e-check, bank transfer, PayPal, debit card, and credit card. Depending on the site, there may be fewer options for withdrawals.

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How Online Casinos Became Legal

How it all Started: The Gambling Forerunners

The history of gambling in the United States is rich and complex, and along this line, nothing more epitomizes it than the glitz and glamour of Nevada’s sprawling casinos. In February of 2013, the state finally made online gambling legal, of course, much to the delight of its venturous populace. By breaking new ground and implementing some of the most cutting edge gambling laws in the nation, Nevada collected consistently large earnings from the mammoth business through the various taxes and charges. Also, back in February of 2013, New Jersey signed into law its own legalization of online casino betting. Governor Chris Christie signed the bill, A2578, with substantial bipartisan support: a rarity today. After months of tests and trials, online gambling officially kickstarted on November 26, 2013. In conjunction with the New Jersey Constitution, all online gaming servers must reside in Atlantic City itself. Similar to Nevada, the reasoning behind the forthcoming rules and regulations were threefold: for the state to collect revenue through taxes, to support New Jersey’s land-based casinos, and to provide a legitimate legal gambling experience.

Difficulty Arises

Not all states were as quick to legalize online gambling as Nevada and New Jersey. It took five whole years of discussion and deliberation for Pennsylvania to legalize online wagering. As bill H271 was invoked, the rust belt state was enveloped by tons of newfound revenue encroaching upon nearly $125 million in its first year alone. Most significantly for Pennsylvania specifically, the newly legal online casino business helped alleviate concerns that the state’s land-based casino enterprise would fall victim to the competition of booming neighboring states. In a way, it would give the state a leg up as it rivals competition by providing another source of gambling revenue interdependent of the brick and mortar casinos readily abundant in the Keystone state. Mississippi’s gambling history is nothing short of rich and far-reaching. In fact, it’s been said that Native Americans gambled regularly on such things as card games and horse races long before Mississippi was actually a settled state. Eventually, in 2017, daily sports betting was legalized. Bill H967 was generally vague, almost intentionally to avoid further scrutiny, but got the job done for gambling stands. A regulatory framework was added following the bill’s passage in 2017, and executive director Allen Godfrey has gone on the record stating that those who participate in unregulated, illicit gambling are being arrested to this day.

Small States, Big Money

Moving on, following the passion of bill S415 in 2018, online casino betting became legal in West Virginia. The bill was passed after years of attempts by delegate Shawn Fluharty and public support from attorney general Patrick Morrissey. The mountain state hopes to have its online betting platform up and running before the start of the football season in September. This past June, the smallest state in the nation, Rhode Island, legalized sports gambling themselves. The bill was passed strikingly by both the House and the Senate to the likes of 66-7 and 34-2, respectively. However, the bill only legalized land-based sports betting, but similar to other states. Online gambling will be legal if the participant is wagering on site. While the Ocean state must surely be ecstatic in anticipation of the forthcoming revenue, their projections of $900 million in the first year seem to lean on the optimistic side. Because betting is restricted to Lincoln and Tiverton, the chances of hauling in those kinds of numbers seem slim.

Building the Foundation: Brick and Mortar Casinos

Grand Problems for the Garden State

Despite the abundant presence of online casinos in our increasingly digital culture, brick and mortar casinos still serve as the backbone for a strong and stable gambling experience. The previously mentioned states: New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, West Virginia, Rhode Island, and Nevada, all contain reliable land-based casinos. New Jersey’s handful of brick and mortar casinos have relied on the revenue generated from online gambling to keep them afloat. The state’s casinos have recently overcome a decidedly rough patch where many of the casinos, including the Trump Taj Mahal, were forced to be closed due to lack of revenue. The recent upswing across the state can be attributed to a more concentrated online gambling presence and the legalization of sports betting, which has brought in an entirely new source of earnings.

Different States mean Different Problems

On the other hand, Delaware’s land-based casino enterprise poses an uncommon dilemma upon the state. Unlike many other states where officials and businesses welcome the perks of running a billion-dollar industry within state lines, Delaware’s small businesses are publicly opposed to casinos’ implementation. From restaurants’ perspective to even local convenience stores and bars, unrestrained sports betting accruing in the casinos is negatively impacting their own businesses. The correlation is a fairly easy one to see, as customers who may usually eat and drink at local stores now have a more lavish source to get their fixes in. Its effect may be more impactful in a smaller state like Delaware than Nevada, or even Pennsylvania, due to the populist appeal of casinos weighted against smaller family businesses. Speaking of Pennsylvania, their twelve casinos are also excited to set up true-to-the-end gambling sites. Like previously said, although Pennsylvania is pleased with the performance of its land-based casinos, the rivalry amongst its flanking states makes it difficult for the oil state to rely exclusively on old-fashioned casinos. This is especially true when one considers that Pennsylvania casinos have not yet constructed sportsbook facilities. Without the potential return of sports betting, the state casinos are trying to remain competitive as the sports facilities’ development nears its end.

In the South and Beyond

Mississippi’s gambling laws have been put into place exclusively for riverboat and Native American casinos in the deep south. In the 1980s, Native Americans were permitted to offer these casinos, and despite the modern look and feel of these gambling hubs, their history goes further back than one would imagine. Location-wise, of the twenty-eight casinos, many are located along the Mississippi and the Gulf Coast’s outer edge. The disparity between the number of casinos in Mississippi and West Virginia is quite surprising. Even though West Virginia only holds five land-based casinos to Mississippi’s twenty-eight, West Virginia’s are unquestionably larger. Specifically, the Hollywood Casino seems to be the new center for gambling devotees. The Hollywood Casino is the first of the five casinos to offer licensed sports betting and is partnering with DraftKings to provide a deeper wagering experience. With the evidently small state Rhode Island is, it’s unsurprising that only three casinos have sprung up, the largest being the Twin River casino. The casino holds over 4,200 gaming machines. This June’s decision to legalize sports gambling should be a sigh of relief for the state’s officials, especially with some of the gaudy internal revenue projections. Rhode Island isn’t exactly the hottest tourist spot, so more and more tourist draws would be welcome additions. Finally, Nevada is, of course, the hot bead of all gambling action. As far as land-based casinos, the best received seem to be the Wynn Las Vegas Casino and the Palazzo Resort Casino. With the recent pooling of online poker players and the PAPSA decision in May, Nevada hopes to continue setting the standard in the world of betting.

Independent Suppliers Want in

Getting a Piece of the Pie

As this handful of states continue perfecting their product, independent partners are longing for a chance to get in on the action. Among the notable independent sportsbooks such as FanDuel and DraftKings, DraftKings is making heavy ground in battleground states such as New Jersey and West Virginia. The partnering process is the embodiment of a symbiotic business relationship between casinos and suppliers due to the fruits it delivers for both sides. Across all states that have legalized sports gambling, partnerships with these companies provide a physical sportsbook presence that makes sports betting quicker and easier for customers. Moreover, it opens up the possibility of creating mobile and online wagering options that are crucial, if not necessary steps, to ensure exponential growth in the 21st century.

The Competition Heats Up

Because DraftKings has been catering their product for nearly a year, they look to have a leg up on the fierce competition expected. Interestingly, DraftKings and FanDuel are not only competing against each other but against the brick and mortar casinos’ own products they may roll out. For instance, Resorts Casino, located in Atlantic City, New Jersey, a key battleground state for independent suppliers, has already created its own fantasy sports product, dubbed FastPick. This service performs many of the similar functions that an independent supplier may furnish, such as picking players head-to-head. Because of factors such as this, DraftKings and FanDuel are already spreading their clout into states such as California and New York; these states are expected to house some of the largest gambling centers in the nation. To do this, suppliers are spending their own money on intense lobbying efforts, and in this lies the benefit of DraftKings older shelf life. The company’s past life of operation is giving them a good head start over their competing suppliers.

United States Gambling Retrospective

A Controversial History

Although it may seem like it today, gambling wasn’t always seen as a controversial exercise. In fact, before the 20th century, there wasn’t much of a legal framework surrounding the industry. However, as a conservative tide swept the nation in the early 1900s, much of the neutral public perception about gambling was swept under the rug. Casinos countrywide were shut down until 1931, when Nevada reopened many of its numerous casinos. New Jersey followed Nevada’s precedent, and the notorious Resorts International in Atlantic City opened in 1978. Since then, the momentum has been steady, and the new hot button issue has become sports gambling, an issue that the sports leagues had definitively stood against for decades.

The Leagues Strike Back

Horse race betting had long been a staple in American society, but sports gambling had always received a poor reputation aside from this exercise: perhaps deservingly so. After members of the White Sox fixed the 1919 World Series, sports decision-makers were gifted with what seemed like a foolproof argument: sports gambling maims the integrity of the game. Even as Nevada made sports gambling legal in 1949, the ten percent cut the federal government received immobilized the industry’s growth. As sports leagues continued to argue based on integrity, they were fortuitously handed more and more examples that reinforced their argument. Whether it be baseball’s Pete Rose scandal or leaked point shavings spanning three decades, the leagues lucked out. Following these events, the Federal Wire Act of 1961 was passed, making it unlawful to place bets or share information regarding them through wires across state lines. Momentum seemed to be stymied until studies in the 1970s made it absolutely apparent just how much the American public supported sports gambling. Upwards of 80 percent of citizens supported it in some form. However, with money and influence, the sports leagues were too much, and the PAPSA decision handed out in 1992 made sports betting illegal on a federal basis. Following this, continued pressure from sports commissioners such as David Stern of the NBA and Rob Manfred of the MLB kept the league’s grip on the industry tight. In the end, however, it would be the millions of avid sports gamblers across the nation that would get the last laugh after the Supreme Court repealed PAPSA this summer.

What About the People?

Public Support is on the Rise

Lost in all the legal jargon of the past century was the comprehensive support sports gambling enjoyed from the U.S. populace. By all accounts, what truly stopped the legalization movement was the sports leagues’ fear that legalization would cut into their own earnings and not bring enough to the table to compensate for it. While these sentiments can certainly be justified from a business perspective, the league’s stubbornness in this matter has shortchanged and alienated their millions of fans. For years, most Americans have approved of sports betting, and a recent poll in 2017 showed that 55% of participants approved of sports gambling. What’s most intriguing for proponents is the significant approval sports wagering receives from the youth, the future of the country. More studies from 2017 showed that 62 percent of people between 18-49 approve legalization of sports gambling while only 46 percent of those over 50 approve of it. For those who believe that the country could be on the cusp of nearly universal support in the short future, these various statistics may serve as compelling confirmation.

Change on the Horizon

Theories behind this shift are surely aplenty, but perhaps the most foolproof comes ironically from the sports leagues themselves and their deviation from their own century-long norm. Recently named NBA commissioner Adam Silver has publicly championed sports gambling, and the MLB has partnered with a company that tracks sports wagering. Additionally, the NHL has recently drafted an expansion team located in Las Vegas, and the NFL’s Oakland Raiders relocated to Vegas in 2019. For those underestimating the significance of these shifting sentiments, one can look back at just how powerful the sports leagues’ prestige was in banning sports betting in the ’90s.

Other Factors to Consider: At Home and Overseas

The Silent Beneficiaries

Native Americans benefit more than any other group from gambling casinos. Many tribes today struggle to get by, and the influx of revenue generated from casinos goes a long way in keeping them afloat. In 2009 alone, Indian reservation gambling generated about $26.5 billion in revenue, more than Atlantic City and Las Vegas combined. Tribes have long experienced a low quality of life, and employment opportunities granted through casino ventures are, in some cases, the difference between life and death. Although Indian reservations receive $4 for every $10 Americans spend at licensed casinos, these numbers plummet for tribes not located in densely populated areas. For this reason, it is pivotal that casinos are given the incentive to grow and expand. Given that many casinos have encouraged more and more Native Americans to become politically active and repair their relationships with non-Indian people groups, Native Americans are sure to continue using their voice and newfound political leverage to influence politicians to continue expanding the gambling industry in the future.

The State of Gambling Abroad

In many ways, especially economically, Europe operates as a single de facto state; yet, this isn’t exactly the case for gambling. There isn’t any standard regulation that applies across Europe as individual jurisdictions are given the discretion to apply their own rules and regulations. Of all the states, Italy’s rules are by far the laxest. This may speak to leading all countries when it comes to gross revenue accrued through gambling, leading at 18 billion euros. The United States should closely observe the profound impact sports gambling has had on the European economy. Sports gambling serves as a plurality of all gambling revenues in Europe, topping off at 37% of all earnings, significantly higher than second-place online poker. The U.S. has long been seen as Europe’s biggest imitator, and given the towering profit realized from sports betting on the continent, it is no surprise that the U.S. is once again following their big brothers’ footsteps.

It’s the Economy Stupid!

Back on U.S. soil, Nevada itself serves as a prototype of what officials can expect when online casino betting is given the tools necessary to take off. With the generation of $248 million in revenue in 2017 alone, it is now time for all states to follow its lead. The more numbers that come in, the more they prove just how large potential tax revenue could be. Even with the splitting of the dividends by multiple parties, all stand to benefit in some capacity or another. As said earlier, Rhode Island, a meager state in the upper northeast, is already witnessing the astonishing results of sports betting. Even if the states own figures seem to be a bit overconfident, the frenzy surrounding the industry is hard to ignore. Aside from the hundreds of millions of dollars of unrealized revenue, sports gambling has the ability to create jobs in the state casinos, restaurants, and hotels. As much as local politicians claim they care about their states economy, squandering the underlying demand for sports betting is doing a great disservice to their very constituents.

Sam Shefrin is the founder of Lineups.com, Inc. Before Lineups, he started Daily Fantasy Cafe, Inc. in 2014. Armed with a passion for sports and every Atlanta team, his journey continues with the goal of making Lineups a premier sports analytics destination. He has been quoted on Forbes.com for industry insight and his websites featured on NBATV, Yahoo! Sports, Fantasy Pros, Bleacher Report and SB Nation.