|This Sunday’s US Superbowl will, as usual, be a bonanza for the bookies. But, as Jason Krause points out in today’s Chicago tribune, few Americans will be able to bet on it – at least, legally bet on it, as online gambling is officially illegal in every US state but Nevada. |
Unfortunately for the US gaming industry, much of the wagers on the biggest day in the national sporting calendar will end up in the bank accounts of overseas bookmakers via the Internet.
Bear Stearns estimates that 4.5 million people regularly gamble online, half of whom are thought to be Americans. As it is unlikely that the good folks of Nevada make up the 2.25 US customers, we can safely assume that large amounts of Americans are, technically speaking, felons. More to the point, the US gambling industry is missing out on a very lucrative pot.
And the industry consensus is that gamblers will wager as much as $3 billion online this year, with the online gambling market expected to grow to more than $5 billion by 2003. That figure lags some way behind the $25 billion cleared by US land-based casinos in 2000, but growth in the online sector is much bigger.
'This is a real, profitable business and, even though they're limited to international markets, this is still a huge opportunity for the legitimate American gaming companies,' says Bear Stearns analyst Marc Falcone.