Will an Election Change US Online Gambling Legislation?

Even though there may be no direct link, the outcome of the US election may very well have an impact on the future of US online gambling legislation. One of the main areas of focus in this election is the Supreme Court, and what could happen to it depending on who becomes President.

Online Gambling

The connection to gambling is primarily through a 2018 Supreme Court ruling paved the way for the opening up of online gambling in various States. Since that 2018 ruling, a total of 22 states have sought to make changes to their legislation, but progress has been slowed by a blend of legal debate as well as Covid-19. However, things are not as clear as they perhaps could have been.

Upon closer inspection, online poker has been somewhat left behind with these changes and the enforcement of new laws. While 22 states have made changes for online casino style games, only 3 have done the same with online poker. Michigan and West Virginia have passed new laws which would bring the total allowing online poker up to 5 States, but they have failed to determine a date as to when it will indeed become officially legal. In other words, both states are stuck in some form of limbo.

But here’s an important point: as more online lottery games and other forms of gambling become more widespread across the country, the opposition surrounding the likes of online poker has dwindled. The hope is that this general lack of interest in campaigning against these issues, as they have hardly been mentioned in the election build-up, will then show that people are generally less concerned about online gambling than they may have been in the past. If there is this consensus, then people should question why there have been such significant delays?

What’s also important to consider that the cat is metaphorically out of the bag when it comes to the legality of online gambling. The difficult part is the slow, grinding nature of government legislation being debated, passed, and then implemented. However, it has, in part, been pushed forward by the explosion of sports betting online, and online casinos or poker websites wanting to try to effectively hitch a ride on this wave and move everything forward in a way that benefits everyone. Now, it’s too late to wind back the legal clock and throw things back to the way they were. The public and online companies just wouldn’t allow it to happen.

But The Election?

The question now is how the election could change things, but it’s important to stress that people are both for and against online gambling and online poker from both sides of the political divide. It’s not a simple Democrat and Republican issue. However, you need to look at who the land based casino operators side with in order to perhaps gain some insight into how things may proceed. By applying certain political pressure, it’s easy to see how this could possibly sway the direction of future changes to the laws.

The problem here is that the well-known Ultra-Republican and casino magnet Sheldon Adelson is more than capable of throwing vast sums of money at blocking legislation. The sad part is that money does indeed talk, and while the states themselves would perhaps enjoy the extra income created by allowing legal online gambling, there is the fear that things may not get as far as that if wealthy individuals get their way and get in the state’s way.

What US gaming legislation needs is for both sides of the political divide to come together to encourage the passing of legislation in accordance with the 2018 Supreme Court ruling, in order to generate income and revenue for the states via taxes on gambling revenue.


Our in-house expert for all things regulation, Jackson covers all major recent developments across US states relating to gambling laws & legislation.