After three states launched legalized and launched iGaming in 2013, online poker and online gambling was expected to proliferate across the US in 2014, but the zeitgeist shifted and the promise of more states coming online in 2014 has seemingly petered out.
So where did it all go wrong?
April 30, 2013 Ultimate Poker launched in Nevada, followed by Delaware’s state-run sites coming online on October 31, 2013, and then New Jersey’s online gambling industry came into being on November 21, 2013.
It all seemed so easy and so effortless.
The Dominoes were falling and by every account even more states were going to join them in 2014, or at the very least pass online gambling bills. We were all expecting to ride the wave of momentum created in 2013 right into 2014. Everything was coming together perfectly… which is precisely when the wheels inevitably come off.
At some point this year state legislatures from Massachusetts to California suddenly lost their zest for online gambling.
Whether it was in-fighting amongst established gaming interests, lawmakers with cold feet who were suddenly facing outside pressure from special interest groups and donors, or a legitimate fear of what online gambling would bring to the table, in 2014 we found out that almost all of these states were all bark and no bite.
Sheldon Adelson’s increased opposition and the formation of CSIG
The biggest monkey wrench thrown into the online gambling gears was the introduction of the first iGaming villain, Sheldon Adelson, who ramped up his opposition to online gambling to unprecedented levels in 2014, vowing to spend whatever it takes to thwart expansion and hiring several lobbyist firms and creating the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.
Adelson’s very public crusade, filled with plenty of logical fallacies and scare mongering videos, gave lawmakers who were far from sold on the idea of gambling on the Internet enough cover to come out against online gambling and enough daylight to raise concerns using the Adelson-created bogeyman arguments.
Anxiety over the federal bill
Adelson also threw down the equivalent of a spike-strip when he got Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham to introduce anti-online gambling bills at the federal level.
The mere threat of a federal ban seems to have given some lawmakers pause, as the two federal bills (which have not been debated, talked about, or even touched since they were introduced) have been discussed at the state level, at hearings in both California and Pennsylvania, as well as at an Internet Gaming forum in Massachusetts before they were even introduced.
Slow start in Nevada and Delaware and lackluster numbers in New Jersey
Adelson aside, the online gaming markets that have popped up haven’t done themselves any favor either.
Overly ambitious expectations and lackluster real-world results have given online gambling opponents and pessimists plenty of fodder to throw at advocates.
The launch of online gambling in the US has been more of a slow plodding affair rather than the expected “hit the ground running” industry we were promised.
Opponents of online gaming expansion can point to the nearly nonexistent revenue numbers being produced in Nevada and Delaware, as well as New Jersey’s inability to come anywhere close to the absurd early predictions that the industry could be worth $1 billion in revenue in year 1.
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