This month marks my 10th year in the online gambling industry:
- as an affiliate who promotes online casinos, poker rooms, bingo, sportsbooks, skill games, and (just in the past year) fantasy sports
- as a player advocate, informing players about good deals from reputable sites as well as alerting players to disreputable online gambling sites
- as a mediator in (rare) disputes between players and operators
- as a player
Oh, how things have changed since 2005.
Thinking back over the past 10 years, here’s my take on just some of big shifts that have happened in the industry. In no particular order…
- Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 : A rider on a “must-pass” port security bill, the UIGEA resulted in the banning of US players by 100s of online gambling sites. There are still several dozen online gambling sites that accept US players, but only a fraction of the number that were available prior to this act.
- In 2008, Kentucky attempts to seize gambling site domains in an effort to stop illegal online gaming. Sites are down for at most a day or two; most just redirected to a .net or .eu domain. However, many online gambling sites now specifically ban players from this state.
- Absolute Poker / Ultimate Bet Online Poker Cheating Exposed on 60 Minutes in 2008 : Savvy players analyzed online poker hand histories and discovered statistical anomalies that alerted them to the cheating. Former owner Russ Hamilton has since admitted his guilt in this scandal, having stolen around $17M.
- Online Poker’s “Black Friday” of 2011 : Online poker in the United States is decimated as PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker were indicted on charges of bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling. It still has not recovered. Settlement talks are ongoing, some agreements have been reached, and some of the brands are attempting to make a comeback as US states begin to legalize and regulate intrastate online poker.
- 2012 to present, states are moving to legalize and regulate intrastate online gambling. Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey all have some form of legal, regulated online gambling, with California, Washington, and other states not far behind. States are essentially claiming that online gambling, like lotteries and land-based casinos, are the purview of the states and not the feds — and it seems like no one is going to challenge that.
Some recent trends include:
- The rate at which new online gambling sites come online has rapidly decelerated. Years ago, there were several new sites a month; now, I rarely hear about a new site coming online.
- Many of the disreputable sites have gone out of business. Of the online gambling sites that remain, the vast majority are reputable, have been around for years, and have all the hallmarks of being in business for years to come.
- Online gambling sites have adapted their sites to tablets and mobile phones; more and more players are playing on their iPads, iPhones, and Android devices.
- Just recently in the United States, some online gambling sites are paying out winnings to a player’s credit card. An all-electronic deposit and withdrawal system is necessary for widespread adoption of online gambling. Pre-UIGEA, NetTeller filled this role, but they were busted, paid fines, relocated from Canada to another jurisdiction, and currently steers clear of all United States markets.