Will the COVID-19 Pandemic Lead to More iGaming in the US?

New Jersey is one of only a handful of states that currently provides legalized online casino gaming. On top of that, they offer online poker and sports betting. The state has offered such services since 2013 and in that time, several states have considered joining in, but lawmakers seem hesitant to pull the trigger on legalization. With the COVID-19 pandemic still in existence, states have to come up with some way to bring in much-needed funds. For states like New Jersey, while they are not able to offer land-based casino gaming, they can rely on their online gaming revenues to help provide money to the state.

Will the online gaming market of New Jersey and other states like Pennsylvania and Nevada convince lawmakers to put forth online gambling legislation and pass it into law?

The Old Argument

When any state was considering online casino and/or poker legislation, the argument that arose most often was that online gaming would interfere with land-based revenues. Well for New Jersey, this is far from the truth. The state has actually seen their gaming revenues flourish due to online options. The land-based casinos in Atlantic City have been on a steady incline by way of revenues as they offer online gaming as well.

Research has shown time and time again that online casinos doe not cannibalize land-based facilities, but enhances it. In the current climate, casino operators would still have money coming in if they were able to offer online options alongside their land-based operations.

During the pandemic, players in New Jersey have a safe form of entertainment that can be enjoyed at home. Even when casinos do open back up, those who do not feel comfortable going back to traditional casino games can still play online, safely social distanced from others.

In just a few days, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement should be revealing the April figures for online gaming in the state. This will be a good report for other states to review to be able to see just how online gaming thrives and how it will help the operators as land-based venues remain closed.

A Boost in 2021

Experts in legislative efforts and the gambling industry feel that 2021 will be a year of promise for online gambling in the US. Even as businesses get back to work, state governments need money. Lawmakers will be looking for ways to bring in funds. Online gaming could easily bring in millions each month by way of revenues, if legislation is passed in a timely manner.

Lawmakers are expected to look at online casino, poker and sports betting as a way to bring new revenues to the states. States like New York and California, that have long struggled to pass online gambling legislation might have to bite the bullet in order to bring money to their state.

It may seem frivolous or silly to some to even be considering online gambling legislation at a time like this. But the industry can bring in immediate tax revenues and help states balance what was lost during the business closures.

Of course, only time will tell what will happen as 2020 continues and 2021 begins. We all hope that the COVID-19 outbreak will slow down, and things will get back to normal. But for now, we are all in the same boat just trying to stay afloat.  It will certainly be interesting to see if a pandemic is what it takes for other states to get on board in offering some form of iGaming.


Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.