The only way to combat the black market for iGaming is with regulated markets

Whether States Act Or Not, Online Gambling, Fantasy Sports And Sports Betting Are Already Happening

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The obliviousness of those in charge of creating gaming policy — or attempting to influence it — will never cease to amaze most of us in the gaming media and industry.

Nowhere is that dynamic on display more than in three overlapping sectors: Online gambling, daily fantasy sports and sports betting.

A variety of recent examples point out what is going on in the space, whether legislators and regulators take action of not.

Fantasy sports is everywhere

If a lawmaker thinks not acting on fantasy sports — ie not passing a law to regulate it — is going to stop it from taking place in their state, they are often sadly mistaken:

DFS companies are staying out of some jurisdictions either because of the cost of doing business there or simply to avoid regulation.

Sports betting

If you want to bet on sports online, it’s not terribly hard to do. There are any number of offshore websites that take Americans’ business, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars in wagers annually.

And now we have WinView Games, a creative and engaging game of skill that has a lot of the element of sports betting. (Those include predicting outcomes and trying to win money). It’s eventually going to be in 80 percent of states, and it’s using states’ skill gaming definitions for legality.

Online poker and casinos

The same kind of dynamic applies to online casinos and poker rooms.

There are plenty of offshore operators that willingly serve Americans for online poker games, with tournaments that sometimes guarantee millions of dollars. The same goes for online casinos (which often operate alongside the aforementioned online poker rooms and sportsbooks.)

There’s even a US online poker site available that uses sweepstakes laws — Global Poker. It’s basically a creative way for people to play poker for real money in the US legally.

Regardless, while there are fewer US-based companies skirting the law or creatively getting around it than in the DFS and sports betting space, there are still plenty of ways to play offshore.

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Prohibition doesn’t work

The point is this: Whether a state has legal mobile and online sports betting (or DFS or poker or casinos) or not, there are plenty of products Americans can easily access. The only effect of not legalizing these things is keeping local gaming facilities and state coffers from benefitting.

Yes, you could hypothetically apply this to a lot of things (ie drugs) that are not legal. But online gambling options are so much easier to access than most things that are illegal by law in the US.

For instance, one of the biggest offshore sites — Bovada (which operates via a Latvian web domain) — offers this advice on gambling from the US on its website:

When wagering on sports in the US, there are some legal complexities to be overcome as states have differing laws when it comes to gambling, but there are options to overcome this: either via visiting a casino in some states or playing online with offshore sites.


USA Casino Players Can Still Enjoy Real Money Games

The government has made playing real money casino games difficult since the introduction of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act in 2006. Fortunately, after the major regulated online casino operators moved out, they were replaced by some great offshore brands that are happy to continue offering casino games to this day.

Want to stop illegal online gambling in a state? Legalize it, regulate it and offer a better alternative than the black market. Otherwise you’re just ignoring reality.

- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. He has played poker recreationally for his entire adult life and has written about poker since 2008.
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