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HomeNewsEconomyHow Will US Gambling Legislation Change Under A Trump Presidency?

How Will US Gambling Legislation Change Under A Trump Presidency?

Frank Osysko waits at a slot machine before a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
Frank Osysko waits at a slot machine before a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

Frank Osysko waits at a slot machine before a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Las Vegas. (Photo: AP)

Are the tyrannical online gambling laws in the United States set to become even worse, or has online gambling in the so-called “Land of the Free” just been dealt a Trump card?

Earlier this month, reality television star and business mogul Donald Trump shocked America and the world when he defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential Election. Despite receiving a million fewer votes than his opponent, Trump secured enough seats in the United States’ Electoral College system to become President-Elect.

Trump ran a campaign based on shock value, promising to deport all undocumented immigrants, build a border wall along the Mexican border, ban all Muslims from entering the country and prosecute Hillary Clinton.

In all this, he hasn’t really mentioned gambling. However, we’re concerned (as always with a new government) as to how this change will affect the industry. With the availability of online casino gaming like roulette being so free in Canada will American follow the same footsteps?

Gambling in the United States

Despite priding itself on being a land of opportunity and freedom, the laws concerning gambling – especially online gambling – in the US are extremely restrictive compared to the vast majority of western democracies.

Gambling in the US is technically legal at a federal level although the majority of states restrict or outright ban the practice. There are fewer than 500 commercial casinos in the US, and most of them are located within Las Vegas or Atlantic City.

For most people, the nearest casino outside of these locations is on a Native American reservation, which are much less restricted by the state in terms of gambling legislation thanks to the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Online gambling is a similar story. Until 2006, online gambling in the US was as popular and freely available as any other country. However, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act caused many of the largest operators to withdraw from the market.

In 2011, the FBI shut down many of the largest online poker and casino operators in the US, effectively banning online gambling at a federal level. The practice is technically legal, but it is not legal for banks to facilitate transactions between customers and casinos.

As of November 2016, only three of the 50 states in the US offer regulated online casino and online poker.

Will Trump change American gambling laws?

Let’s begin this section with a short answer: probably not.

The simple reason for this is that a new President has far more concerns than a relatively minor piece of legislation. However, assuming that gambling laws do come up under Trump’s first four years in charge, let’s examine how likely it is that things change for better or worse.

Pro: Trump has been involved in the casino industry

The Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City has recently closed, but until 2016 Trump’s business empire included this large casino. Clearly, Trump is familiar with the potential revenue stream that federal online gambling legislation can bring in to the country.

(Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article did not state clearly Icahn Enterprises took over ownership of the Trump Taj Mahal. In February 2016, Trump Entertainment Resorts exited bankruptcy and became a subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises.)

Con: Sheldon Adelson is Trump’s largest donor

Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire owner of The Venetian casino, is anti-online gambling to a ridiculous extent. He is also the largest donator to the Republican party, and in the US political system, one can make gigantic donations to political parties in a bid to get laws passed. Trump now owes Adelson a favour, which is bad news for the online gambling industry.

U.S. billionaire Sheldon Adelson speaks during a press conference for the opening of Parisian Macao in Macau, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016. Adelson was set to throw open the doors Tuesday to the French-themed Parisian Macao, the mogul's fifth property in the former Portuguese colony. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

U.S. billionaire Sheldon Adelson speaks during a press conference for the opening of Parisian Macao in Macau, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016. Adelson was set to throw open the doors Tuesday to the French-themed Parisian Macao, the mogul’s fifth property in the former Portuguese colony. (Photo: AP)

Pro: Trump is pro-online gambling

Five years ago, Trump went on the record to state that he was in support of online gambling. However, we can’t count this as a major pro; already, Trump has gone back on much of what he said just weeks or months ago, let alone five years.

Con: the Republican party controls everything

Even if Trump was a massive proponent of online gambling, the President is not an all-powerful position. He must answer to the House of Representatives and the US Senate, both of which are now under the control of the Republican party.

It is the Republican party, namely some powerful Senators and Representatives, who have pushed for the restriction and outright banning of online gambling. It is extremely unlikely that any bid to de-restrict the industry would pass muster.

Conclusion: status quo likely to remain

If we had to bet on an outcome, it would be that the current situation would likely remain unchanged. Federalised online gambling is not going to be a top priority for President Trump, and even if it were then his party would almost certainly not support him in this position.

In fact, while the status quo is most likely, a negative impact is far more likely than a positive one. Sheldon Adelson’s multi-million-dollar influence on the Republican party cannot be overstated, and he will push to continue stopping online gambling at a federal level.

In short, it seems likely that there will continue to be an asterisk next to the word “freedom” when it comes to gambling in the US.

Written by

PPD Business, the economy-reporting arm of People's Pundit Daily, is "making sense of current events." We are a no-holds barred, news reporting pundit of, by, and for the people.

Latest comment

  • I feel, Sheldon Adelson puts GOP on the wrong side of this issue.

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