According to the trade group American Gaming Association (AGA), online sports bookies estimated around $2.8 billion in revenue, with roughly $42.5 billion in bets in the US, between January and June 2022.
Yet, despite numerous licenses being granted, the US has to be more watchful. The prevalence of online gambling has brought with it a fair share of illicit activities. This makes customers vulnerable and more prone to being hacked or, worse off, becoming victims of financial crimes. This is precisely why it’s crucial for punters to be not only vigilant of which operators to choose (whether to place a wager on a game or play at an online casino), but also not be reeled in too easily with tempting promotions like no deposit free spins bonuses. Researching both the online casino, its reputation, and what the T&Cs outline is always a good start. Of course, looking up trusted online reviews is another way to go about it.
Sports betting and online gambling in the US so far
In Massachusetts, the state is imposing a levy on a five-year license fee of $5.2 billion for operators. This decision was taken in the early days of August 2022 when it came to legalizing sports betting.
New York has also decided to legalize online gambling in January 2022 with $25 million in license fees imposed by the state on potential online gambling providers.
When you look at the legalization of slots in the US and other traditional gaming services, the number of states which have legalized everything to the full is a paltry six. However, the revenue that has been generated by digital slot machines is astounding. The first half of 2022 saw earnings jump to a significant high of 43% from the numbers recorded in 2021. The revenue from digital slot machines only stood at $2.4 billion in June 2022.
The risk of financial crime
Keep in mind that land-based gambling and physical casinos are dealt with by federal regulatory authorities when it comes to compliance. So the decision to leave regulations to the individual states creates a myriad of problems.
Since each state has its own set of laws, there is a multitude of gray areas to handle and manage. The lack of structured enforcement adds to the concern that the industry will become rife with money laundering.
Banks, for instance, have very strict regulations to adhere to, and oversight in compliance leads to severely harsh penalties. Unfortunately, where online sports betting and gambling in the US are concerned compliance is murky.
There is a growing fear that criminals could use an online casino, or even better, a mobile casino app to deposit dirty money or ill-gotten gains into an online casino and win back ‘clean’ or honest money.
Is there a way to mitigate the risk of criminal activity?
It’s the smaller players which are short of resources and don’t have compliance teams in place that are most at risk. Some of them are not even aware of money-laundering programs until they are grilled by payment providers.
However, the US states could still avail themselves of agencies that could regulate companies going rogue. These are:
- Fin CEN – a US Treasury agency that handles financial crimes;
- Internal Revenue Service – in charge of monitoring the operations of the industry
It is important at this stage that clarity is shed when it comes to the regulatory body or agency tasked to pave the way for compliance in gambling and the prevention of illegal activity.