Photo by sebastiaan stam on Unsplash
New Yorkers used to have to cross the state boundary to indulge in an online bet on the horses or to back their team with a sports bet. However, for over a year, online betting has been legal here, and the gambling lobby hopes that all forms of betting may be legalised at some point in the future. Moreover, there are precedents for successful regulated markets in neighbouring New Jersey and Canada. So, what lessons can be learned from markets that have already opened their gambling markets?
The USA has had a contradictory relationship with gambling over the years. On the one hand, it was home to the self-proclaimed gambling capital of the world – Las Vegas. On the other, throughout much of the country, there was a total prohibition on gambling and wagering. That is not to say it did not happen; it was all underground and behind closed doors. New Jersey had Atlantic City, which attracted New Yorkers and people from the Northern Seaboard to its casinos and attractions.
However, wagering on sports was banned under the federal 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. The ban was overturned in 2018 when it was deemed unconstitutional as it contravened a state’s right to self-determination. New York passed an act in 2013 to make sports betting legal, and a regulatory framework was put in place in 2019 for bricks and mortar sportsbooks. However, mobile sports betting took a little longer to arrive.
In 2019, the then Governor, Andrew Cuomo, signed a budget agreement that included a framework that would allow New Yorkers to enjoy mobile gaming from home. The legislation made the New York Gaming Commission responsible for mobile betting operations. A request for applications for providers to offer mobile sports wagering was issued, and nine operators were granted licences. The market officially opened for live wagering on January 8th, 2022. However, online casino games and slots are not legally available to New Yorkers.
In comparison, Canada has taken a slightly different path in opening its gambling markets. As with the US, federal laws do not regulate gambling practices, and each province in the country sets its own setup, rules, and regulations. Nevertheless, provincial governments here have realized that there are significant advantages to creating regulated markets. These broadly fall into two categories:
- Protecting citizens from potential harm and risks associated with gambling
- Raising tax revenues
A recent study forecast that states could raise significant revenues if online gambling was legalized. For example, if the 42 states that currently have land-based casinos or sports betting also allowed online casino gambling, the US online market could be worth $30 billion. This could translate into $6.35 billion in additional state revenues combined, assuming a twenty percent tax was levied.
The authorities in Canada’s Ontario have woken up to the potential of a fully regulated, legalized gambling market. All forms of gambling in this province are legal for residents aged 19 and over. Lottery and bingo can be played by anyone over 18. In New York, the legal age to place a wager is 18, so there is essentially parity on this aspect. The real difference is that online casino gambling and online slots are regulated and accessible in Canada.
Gambling in the province comes under the jurisdiction of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission Ontario. International and local commercial operators were invited to apply for licences to run services in the province.
iGaming Ontario is responsible for issuing the licences. The regulated operators must adhere to a strict legal framework regarding all business areas. This includes consumer protection, anti-money laundering provisions, and safe and secure platforms and games. By going down the regulated route, Ontarians can rest assured that they are playing on safe and legal sites.
In Canada, deposits at online casinos and sports betting sites can be made using various payment methods. Having an internationally recognized brand processing payments for your online casino goes a long way to reassure customers that they have arrived at a reputable site.
Gamblers can choose from a wide range, including PayPal, Interac, Visa, Mastercard, or Instadebit casinos in Canada. In addition, many of them allow customers to use new fintech apps like Boku, Neteller, Paysafecard, and Neosurf. The lesson is that a wide variety of payment options will attract the broadest range of customers. In addition, several online casinos in Canada accept cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
If New York chooses to open its virtual doors for casino-style games, it could do worse than follow what is happening north of the border. Ontario has been a success story. It was recognized that Canadians like to gamble; there were over 19 million online accounts in the country. An Ipsos survey found that 85 percent of Ontarians now gamble on regulated sites. Before the launch of the new commercial market, 70 percent of people were playing on unregulated ones.
The plan to encourage people away from unregulated sites and to get them to play at licensed sites seems to have worked. Ontarians spent $35.6 billion in the first year of legal online gambling. It is already one of the top 5 jurisdictions in terms of turnover in North America, and the industry netted $1.4 billion in that time.
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