When the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was signed into law almost five years ago, it was believed that the online gambling industry was destined to quickly fade out in the United States.
Despite several years of government efforts to prosecute operators and payment processors, online poker and casino gambling continues to thrive in the US.
Online poker reviewer PokerSites.com announced that while US-based traffic rapidly declined in the wake of Black Friday, there has been a steady increase in US-based viewers at their site over the last six months.
Robert Stern, PokerSites Communications Director, said, “We are seeing more and more people realizing that online gambling is here to stay and are more comfortable accessing online poker now that that US states are legislating to clear up any gray areas.”
Millions of Americans are still gambling online and are spending upwards of $4bn a year on the sites that will still accept them. Internationally, internet gambling accounted for $32.8bn in revenue in 2011.
Over the next five years, social gaming on smartphones and tablets is projected to generate around $100bn in revenue.
These developments have started to have an effect on state legislators, who are eager to cash in on potential revenues. This has gathered pace since the December 2011 federal ruling that stated that online poker and other skill-based games were not considered illegal as long as they were specifically legalized state by state.
“Now that one of the most high profile prosecutions has been settled, with Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars agreeing to pay $731 million in consumer compensation, we expect to see increased interest in online poker as more US players test the waters,” added Stern.
The settlement was followed after the announcement that PokerStars would acquire Full Tilt, and that they were preparing to return to the US market by way of Nevada the first state to pass a statute authorizing online gaming.
Nevada has laid the groundwork, and since their game-changing decision, both Delaware and New Jersey have passed similar statutes. California, New Jersey, Washington, D.C. and Iowa are now all preparing similar legislation.
There has been continued and consistent lobbying for the legalisation of online poker. The Poker Players Alliance, which has, over the last five years, spent more than $7.6m on lobbying, has been pushing for the US Department of Commerce to allow states to regulate online poker. The National Indian Gaming Commission is also lobbying to have control over regulation, and have spent more than $20m in their efforts.
Launched in 2001, PokerSites was originally founded as an online poker portal and industry analysis hub to provide visitors with a way to access information about regional poker play, popular deposit methods and software information. Today, PokerSites sets the industry standard for all information concerning poker play on the Internet.