Legalized Gambling Creates Opportunities and Challenges for 2019 and Beyond

This year, state’s righters have been on a bull run. The Supreme Court overturned a key federal anti-gambling policy last summer, meaning that states are now allowed to legalize and regulate sports betting within their jurisdictions as they see fit. This decision was revolutionary, and it brought a suite of new opportunities for state and local jurisdictions. However, these opportunities have also brought challenges, particularly with respect to deterring fraud and abuse in gambling.

Bring in the Money, Bring in the Fun

With the recent change in law, many states are scrambling to pull together new wagering policies that would allow their citizens to start placing bets before the turn of the New Year. Gaming offers states a new stream of tax revenue, which creates a valuable opportunity to add cash to their coffers and fund important public projects.

Between gaming licenses, transaction fees, and excise taxes, states and municipalities are looking at billions in potential new tax revenues. These opportunities are enticing, and as a result laws establishing, taxing, and regulating various forms of wagering are pending in dozens of jurisdictions across the country. Experts estimate that 32 states will legalize sports betting within the next 5 years, and there’s no telling how this expansion will affect other forms of regulated gaming.

Gaming is big business. But despite the enormous potential economic benefits of enacting pro-gambling policies, many lawmakers hesitate to pull the lever on full-scale gambling legalization. Much of this is due to the fact that the recent upsurge in wagering across the country has opened up the possibility of a whole new set of problems. And among most daunting of these new problems involve how attractive casino gaming is to people working up frauds and schemes.

Casinos Become Tools For, and Victims of, Fraud

The gambling industry has worked hard to shed the shadowy image that it developed when it was forced underground. Legalized gambling means that casinos are watched closely by state officials to ensure that games are run fairly and honestly. Legalization and regulation of casinos and other gambling establishments is an effective way to ensure that these businesses operate responsibly. Unfortunately, however, the same cannot be said about the patrons of these establishments.

Even legally-run casinos can attract fraud. Case-in-point, consider the recent sentencing of a 49-year-old suburban women from Atlanta who had pled guilty for participating in a national fraud scheme involving various casinos. The defendant had taken a suite of casinos and multiple credit card companies for over $1.1 million by using fake names and social security numbers to gain credit from casinos and credit card companies.

The defendant and her co-conspirators used casino credits to carry out their plan, which are a courtesy that some gaming establishments use to give players a way to easy access cash up front. The defendant used casinos were located in three different California counties, and it didn’t take long for the California Board of Gaming Control and the FBI to detect the scam. However, as legalized gaming establishments welcomes new gamblers, fraudsters will inevitably be attracted as well.

It’s important keep in mind that fraud will run rampant in just about any industry if it is left unchecked. Illicit gambling is already a problem in the U.S., and legalization is an effective means of eliminating the ill effects of black market activity. Lawmakers and state officials across the country are exploring new avenues in the regulation and enforcement of laws affected by casino gaming, but there’s little doubt that gambling will continue to bring in substantial tax revenues in the meantime.

Samantha Fow