How a change in gambling laws would affect Florida
The United States’ relationship with gambling is long and complicated, and quite frankly, it is often hypocritical. To foreigners, the country is often seen as the home of gambling, thanks to the global fame of Las Vegas.
However, in many states, including Florida, the laws surrounding gambling are often tough and restrictive. Our state is just one of many to place restrictions on sports and online betting whilst licensing many land-based casinos.
Nationwide, and here in Florida, there are ongoing efforts from senators and campaigners to loosen the regulations on sports betting and online casinos. Whilst there is no timeframe set on this change, it is looking increasingly probable that both will be legalized and regulated in the coming years.
How though, would this affect Florida and is there a successful blueprint that lawmakers could follow? Read on to find out.
The Seminole tribe in Florida nets around $2.5 billion a year from gambling in Florida, whereas non-tribal gambling groups surpassed $500 million in revenues last year. $3 billion in gambling revenues is a staggering amount for a state with such heavy industry regulations.
Were online casinos and sports betting to be fully legalized in Florida, that figure would soar to just under $10 billion. In countries where online gambling is regulated and legalized, revenues from the remote sector are usually the same, if not higher than land-based casino incomes. For example, in the UK online gambling accounts for 38.8% of the total spend, while betting shops and the National Lottery make up the remainder. Clearly the accessibility and quality of the various forms online gambling are attracting increasing numbers of gamblers.
In most countries, online slots are the most popular type of casino game, played by 53% of casino players. Their success is largely due to the number of options for players, as well as how fun and simple they are to play, established online casinos like 777 host an incredible selection of online slots, which keep players coming back for more. Slots account for the largest percentage of online revenues in most countries, if online casinos were to be legalized in Florida, it is likely that these well-crafted and attractive slots would be the most played games.
Whilst sports betting may not be as big financially as online casinos, it still does account for around 20% of gross gambling revenues in countries with complete legalization.
Best estimates suggest that legal sports betting in Florida could be worth anywhere from half a billion dollars a year to double that figure. All in all, the revenues of the gambling industry would increase phenomenally.
Slots are a major moneymaker for the online gambling industry
How greater gambling revenues could affect Florida?
Tax: Currently the state of Florida has a revenue-sharing agreement with the Seminole tribe, which earns the state around $300 million a year. However, as recently as six months ago the Native American tribe took the decision to withhold money from the state.
This has not been the first – and likely not the last – time that the government has had issues with tax revenues from tribal gambling.
A fully licensed and regulated online gambling and sports betting industry would give the state a more reliable, and potentially larger source of tax income that could be distributed into public spending.
Jobs: At the time of writing there is no specific law to stop Floridians from gambling online. The law is seemingly only concerned with stopping individuals and companies from setting up online gambling companies within the state.
As well as encouraging money to leave Florida, this law also prohibits job growth within the state whilst indirectly funding it elsewhere. If online gambling were to be legalized within Florida it would lead to a significant increase in job opportunities for residents.
There are currently 352,000 people out of work in Florida, and whilst legalized online gambling would not completely wipe out this figure, it could be responsible for the creation of at least 30,000 extra jobs.
Problem gambling: There is an argument to be made against legalizing online gambling when it comes to social issues arising from the activity. The thinking amongst many is that more gambling facilities in Florida will lead to a rise in the number of problem gamblers.
This assertion seems logical and hard to argue with. That is, however, until you look to the example set by the United Kingdom…
The British blueprint
Almost every form of gambling imaginable is legal and regulated in the United Kingdom; from blackjack in a city center casino to jumping from table to table on live streaming online casino sites.
Whilst there are still issues with problem gamblers in the UK, the country has significantly lower problems than almost any other country in the world where online gambling is legalized. That’s because of how the government has decided to regulate the industry and something called gambling maturity.
Under laws set up by the gambling commission, all companies that operate gambling facilities in the UK, whether online or in person, are required to donate 1% of their annual revenues to gambling charities.
The charities, which are also publicly funded receive just under $200 million a year in funding from the gambling industry. This money is invested in helping people with gambling problems and increasing public awareness of the personal responsibility that gamblers have to themselves and their family members.
Several educational research teams have asserted that this approach from the British authorities has led to a much more mature gambling audience in the country. In short, British citizens are well-versed in the pitfalls of gambling than others, and as such, are less likely to experience problems with gambling.
In addition to this, the British government has imposed several restrictions on gambling companies that require them to actively monitor the well-being and spending patterns of their customers.
Whilst there are still people who slip the net, many are picked up on before they develop serious problems with gambling.
Change is coming in terms of gambling in Florida, and there needs to be a concerted effort from lawmakers to make those changes as beneficial as possible. Without caps and regulations, there will still be benefits in terms of tax revenues and job creation.
However, to truly make a success of legalized online casinos and sports betting, Floridian regulators could do much worse than following the lead of British gambling lawmakers.