If you were hoping that 2016 would be the year online gambling becomes a reality throughout the United States, think again. A number of issues will likely keep politicians at the state and federal level from acting on strong gambling legislation. Let's take a look at a few of these issue preventing more online casinos from beginning operation in the US.
First of all, it's an election year. We aren't even into the primaries yet, but politicians are more likely to stay away from controversial issues like online gambling and sports betting in an election year. While many, many people gamble in Las Vegas, at tribal casinos, and online (legally or otherwise), making such a big change to gambling laws could be a tough pill to swallow for legislators concerned with reelection campaigns.
Second, states are looking at the places that have legalized online casinos and are noticing they are bringing in less revenue than anticipated. While Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware were the first to begin legalizing online casino gambling, and they are bringing in money from the ventures, it has not been as much as anticipated. For states considering legalization, they may have to adjust their revenue forecasts downward, which makes moving ahead more difficult to justify.
Third, 2015 saw a much bigger issue come up than online poker: Daily Fantasy Sports took the world by storm over the last year, and especially throughout the last five months when it was heavily promoted during the NFL season. Lawmakers may take on DFS sites first, then circle back to online casino games later.
Finally, one huge potential issue is the Restoration of America's Wire Act (RAWA), which would ban online gambling at federal level. This would mean that even the states that have already moved ahead with regulation would have to shut down online gaming operations within their states. With this hanging over the heads of everyone at the federal level, it makes it more difficult for individual states to act on online betting legislation.
All of this together could keep progress on online gaming off the shelf in 2016 entirely for many lawmakers and states. A few states, such as California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York may move ahead on regulations already being considered, but we can likely expect few new states to take on the issue of online casino legislation until after the election season is over.