Published On: Fri, Jan 11th, 2019

Is Trump Likely To Legalise Online Gambling Across The US?

In May 2018, the US Supreme Court overturned the earlier PASPA ruling that has effectively outlawed sports betting across the country. Since then, we’ve seen a number of developments that have introduced betting at racetracks across the US – notably in the states of New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia. As a result, many more states – including California, New York and Kentucky – began drafting bills to legalise sports betting.

Overturning the PASPA ruling was clearly a huge development for gambling in the US. Many are now predicting the floodgates to open and gambling of all kinds to be legalised across the nation. However, there is still a long way to go before the US completely embraces gambling, and starts to transform its $400 billion black market for sports betting into valuable government revenue.

The decision rests with a man who has a gambling past of his own, as a casino tycoon in the 1980s: President Trump. Let’s look at the issue of online gambling and work out whether there’s a chance the US will reap its rewards during Trump’s presidency.

Online gambling: the state of play post-PASPA

The question of legalised sports betting may have been handed over to individual states but on a countrywide basis, online gambling remains out of reach for most Americans. With no federal law specifically prohibiting the practise, the decision lies in the hands of individual states.

In some states, online gambling is illegal. In others, residents are permitted to play with regulated operators. Within those states that have legalized online play, there are discrepancies in terms of the different games available. In Nevada, for example, citizens can only bet at the online poker tables while in New Jersey, poker and certain other casino games are permissible.

It’s something of a confusing situation and that’s why there are calls to produce an all-encompassing federal law that would introduce some clarity. The obvious question is, will that situation ever become a reality?

Donald Trump: from casino tycoon to President

Those hoping for a change in the law that would subsequently allow online gambling across the US have an obvious ally in Donald Trump. The 45th President of the US is a man who, in part, made his name as an owner of Atlantic City casinos. He has been dubbed as one of New Jersey’s most notorious gamblers.

Trump’s involvement in the land-based gambling world dates back to the early 1980s, shortly after state law was passed allowing the construction of bricks-and-mortar casinos. New Jersey residents voted to allow casino play in 1976 and by 1982, the future US President was in on the deal.

Trump acquired a license to open premises in 1982 and he then linked up with Harrah’s the firm who ran the gambling operation of the Holiday Inn group. Two years later in 1984, Harrah’s at Trump Plaza opened its doors: At the time it was the biggest casino in Atlantic City history but Donald Trump’s links to gambling had only just begun.

Trump and online gambling

The closer we look at the history of Donald Trump, the more we can see how legalized online gambling across America can become a reality. From his initial business move in the early 1980s, the established businessman overcame a fallout with Harrah’s to carry on Trump Plaza on his own. In 1989, he paid over $60 million to buy out the ailing Atlantis Hotel and Casino.

Donald Trump has been synonymous with gambling for nearly 40 years. The fact he clearly understands the financial benefits of owning a casino has got American punters enthused about the potential for online play to be legalised across the land. The online gambling market is estimated to be worth $60 billion – representing a fantastic opportunity for the US government to earn valuable revenue, and create more jobs for Americans.

Convenience is one benefit of gambling in the physical world, but there are many ways in which the online operators can eclipse their physical counterparts.

For starters, online operators have no restrictions on space, so they can offer greater choice. And they do, with hundreds of titles on slots, together with all common variants of roulette, poker and blackjack. By offering a mixture of convenience, generous rewards and immersive gameplay, players have been heading to online gambling in their droves. To see how easy and rewarding it is to have a flutter online, take a look at this range of engaging casino games.

Adelson: the cause of the hold-up?

Even if Donald Trump is convinced of all the reasons to allow online gambling in the US, there’s one thing (or one person) preventing him from passing a federal law. Sheldon Adelson is a long-established business mogul and among many accomplishments is his ownership of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation which runs a number of global casinos, including in Macau. For this reason, he’s perhaps understandably keen to prevent online casinos eating into his profits.

Adelson is said to hold great influence over Trump. He’s a powerful supporter of the President, and donated $100 million to the GOP during the most recent election campaign. As a close confidant with vast success in a relevant industry, it stands to reason that he might hold some influence in any legal decision on gambling.

Summary: will he or won’t he legalise online gambling?

As close observers of Donald Trump might expect, there are contrasting aspects to his relationship with gambling. His own business interests are well known and they are a potential boost to online casino supporters. However, in March 2018 it was reported that the President had fired his personal assistant John McEntee because he liked to gamble online.

The reports claim that Trump considered his aide to be a security risk – but his actions are hardly a glowing endorsement for future federal law that would allow the practise.With several lawsuits on the horizon, plus the ongoing internal politics around the wall and investigation over his links with Russia, Trump’s concerns might lie elsewhere for now.

However, as someone who understands how the casino industry works – and surely the benefits it could bring the US – the country may never have been closer to opening its doors completely to gambling.

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