Major change has swept across the US since PASPA was repealed back in 2018 with a number of states looking to adjust their legislation for iGaming services – this has most notably been targeted towards online sports betting, but some have also included language to legalize online casinos within their respective states and examples like Michigan online casinos show just how successful this change can be with billions generated in iGaming revenue.
The path to change hasn’t been as straight forward for other states, however, as existing legislation or issues with tribal gaming requirements have led to roadblocks along the way, other states have also met resistance on the legislation board that slows the process despite widespread support for the introduction of iGaming services. Two states on opposite ends of the spectrum can be compared in California, which has remained very restrictive for both online sports betting and online casinos, against Michigan which has legalized both iGaming services to tremendous success – and it raises the question, could California benefit from the Michigan approach to iGaming?
What led to success in Michigan?
To identify whether or not California can follow, it’s first important to understand what allowed Michigan to become one of the blueprint states for change – and for that, the clear answer is simply in how quickly the state was able to pass legislation and deploy online services seamlessly. Support was found as early as 2019 to make the change, licensing was drawn up and by 2021 services had started to launch in the state with rapid deployment.
States which haven’t been able to move as quickly have certainly suffered, Maryland is a prime example as despite legal online sports betting passing legislation, a lack of urgency to hand out licensing to operators has led to huge delays and the potential loss of hundreds of millions in revenue too – something California will need to avoid to find the same success as states like Michigan.
What’s leading to the delay in California?
So, if Michigan has shown a clear path to success with rapid deployment, what is it that’s holding California back? In small part it’s due to the support of changing legislation not being as prominent as states like Michigan, but the big roadblock so far has been within tribal gaming rights. Whilst some card rooms, bingo games, and pari-mutuel wagering on horse races are permitted in California, standard casino games like slots are only allowed to be operated at tribal casinos on tribal lands under the state-tribe compacts adding a level of complexity to change.
Whilst conversations have taken place to reach an agreement, this has been slow going and there has been little progress in the few years since the PASPA change, and ultimately for online casinos or online sports betting to launch in the state, this hurdle will need to be overcome.
That isn’t to say there aren’t other options to follow for California – New York faced the same issues with tribal gaming rights and was able to work around those to launch online sports betting in early 2022 and is now aiming to have online casino options launch in the near future too with a similar approach, and so California legislators may have an option to follow a more streamlined approach yet.
As sports betting becomes more widespread across the US with fewer states remaining to legalize, much of the taboo will disappear and online sports betting will become something more normal, and this change may also allow for online casino games to follow a similar path. Success has been shown already in 2023 with the Super Bowl being the most gambled on event in US history, and with states like Michigan showing a clear path forward for late hold-outs like California, there’s a huge amount of opportunity yet to come with the potential for huge revenue to be generated. With new technological innovations such as AI coming to the forefront of technology, including within the gambling sector, there is no telling where this growth will end.