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Online gambling is a growing industry across the United States and more states are working towards legalizing sports betting and online casino gaming for their residence. The industry is currently valued at approximately $2,178.29 million US dollars and is expected to grow annually by almost 18 percent between now and the year 2026.

While many areas of the country have welcomed sports betting, only a few have shown the same attitude to online casinos so far, however this is beginning to change as lawmakers see the local economic benefits of its introduction. Let’s take a more in depth look at the current situation for online gambling in the United States and evaluate how this landscape is expected to change over the next few years.

Online gambling in the United States – where we are at

The United States Justice Department has made online gambling a legal activity for players and operators as long as it is legal and within regulation at the state level. Due to this, state authorities have introduced sports betting in more than 20 states so far.

Some types of sports attract betting more than others. For example, American Football is by far the most popular choice for sports bets and wagers on NFL games account for more than half of all bets made, in 2018 around $158.6 million worth of bets were made on the Super Bowl. But it’s not just top-level sport which attracts attention from bettors, betting on college basketball is hugely popular, sports fans are keen to make predictions on lesser known players who they’re backing to go right to the top.

Away from team sports, boxing / MMA fighting, golf and tennis also attract plenty of bettors. And, more recently, betting on Esports has been growing in popularity as more people enjoy watching live streaming gaming.

There is growing demand for casino games online and a number of states have recognized this, these include Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Connecticut has also very recently lifted restrictions on it.

In 2020, Massachusetts was set to allow wider online gambling after already allowing regulated sportsbooks, however the bill failed to be passed during the November elections.

New Jersey is one of the few states that supports both online casinos and online sports betting, its online gambling industry is now estimated to be worth around $225 million US dollars. Pennsylvania and Delaware followed New Jersey’s lead in legalizing all gambling types soon after their law change.

Surprisingly while Nevada, the home of casino hotspot Las Vegas, is seen as one of the world’s best gambling spots, its laws around online gambling are not yet as developed as other states. Online sports betting and online poker are allowed but other online casino games were left out of changes to legislation.

There are still some areas of the United States that are unlikely to introduce online gambling any time soon. Both Utah and Hawaii take a very prohibitive stance and have outlawed all forms of gambling, while Idaho and Wisconsin are also not making plans to relax their laws in the near future.

States to watch out for over the next 12 months include Indiana, Maryland, Illinois, Nebraska and potentially Missouri.

What’s next for this growing industry?

Besides welcome changes to online gambling legislation, the development and improvement of new technology is having a big impact on the online casino and betting experience. For example, many online sites are now live poker and blackjack.

These sites are able to use relatively new live streaming technology to invite players to play games over the internet in real time. Players are able to physically see the cards and communicate with the dealer as they would in a land based venue, making the experience more socially interactive.

Another technological  innovation making waves in this industry is Virtual Reality or VR. Using VR headsets, such as the Oculus, players can enter a virtual casino environment and ‘walk’ around the casino floor and chat to other players, they can even visit the lobby or take a seat in the virtual bar.

Similarly, Augmented Reality (AR) is being used to merge real-life objects and a virtual environment in the context of online casinos.

These types of immersive experience is still fairly new and is yet to engage a large percentage of online casino gamers.

Game operators are also utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve the player experience. AI is being used to make games more intuitive, as well as improving marketing targeting strategies and reducing costs through non-human customer support chat boxes.

These are just some of the technological innovations that are being used in the online gambling market in the United States. As more states open themselves up to this industry and more international gaming operators expand their activity to the US, we can expect to see the variety of quality of online casino games and sportsbook to improve in the near future.

There is still a long way to go before people in all states are able to enjoy the economic benefits and entertainment opportunities that the online gambling industry can offer.