In terms of online gaming revenue, the United States has the greatest potential, but it also faces the greatest obstacles. Under the UIGEA, which prohibits U.S. banks and credit card companies from processing charges to and from online casinos, online gaming is currently illegal in the United States. Legalizing online gambling, however, could result in a market worth $12 billion in the United States, according to Goldman Sachs.
As a result of the ban on gambling in the United States, a modern-day version of Prohibition has emerged. Legalization’s proponents say today’s similar dynamic—
There are a lot of eager bettors, but there is no legal financial infrastructure in place to prevent money laundering and the involvement of dishonest money handlers. If a U.S. financial institution accepts winnings, the consequences could be unpleasant for everyone involved. For example, in June 2009, federal authorities in the United States froze the accounts of 27,000 online poker players totaling $34 million. Two service providers, Allied Systems Inc. and Account Services were in charge of the accounts, which were housed at Wells Fargo, Citibank, and other U.S. financial institutions.
Online gaming has been proposed for legalization in Congress. In March 2010, Barney Frank introduced a bill that would license and regulate all online gaming, except for sports betting, with 66 co-sponsors. Non-banking interactive poker and other skill games, as well as interactive horse racing, would be legalized under a bill introduced by Senator Robert Menendez in the Senate. However, neither bill made any progress in 2009 or the first few months of 2010.
Legislation has been proposed in some states, while studies showing how online gaming could increase tax revenue were presented to others. For example, California was considering legislation that would have allowed intrastate online poker, but the bill has since been delayed. Tax revenue of $90 million per year could be raised if online poker is legalized, according to a study presented to Florida legislators by a lobbying group
Online gaming is estimated to be worth an estimated CDN$1 billion in Canada, and the country has been looking to ease its own online gaming regulations. There must be a provincial government or agency in charge of all gaming in Canada. Loto-Quebec was given the go-ahead to enter the online gaming market in early 2010. A common electronic platform will be developed by Loto-Quebec and B.C Lottery Corp. and Atlantic Lottery Corp., both of which already offer limited online gaming, in order to reach the player volume necessary for online poker’s viability. A number of provinces, including Ontario, are expected to follow suit and provide access to online gaming by the end of the year.