Online Casino Games are Now Legal in Delaware

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It seems to us that Delaware’s recent legalization of online gambling (making it the first state in the USA to do so) is really not so much an effort to go maverick but rather to compete with the states around it. Maryland’s and Pennsylvania’s casinos will add significant amounts of supplemental revenue (hundred of millions of dollars) to their coffers, at time when the cash is badly needed.

So this news can and should be seen in a larger framework. That larger view would include, for instance, the millions of people employed in the casino industries across the States wherever gambling is legal under restricted circumstances. And, with no offence whatsoever intended toward Delaware, it is a small state without quite as much statistical muscle as larger states, so it cannot exactly be used as proof that legalizing online gambling works.

The opponents of this newly passed legislation in Delaware are also somewhat pragmatic; it does not seem to be an issue bedevilled by moralism there. The opposition believes that the costs, in fact, of expanding gambling as a hobby (a hobby that too often threatens social health) are too high. If they are right, then passage of such a bill is a quick fix, and perhaps for a conservative it even seems like dancing with the devil.

Technology Can Play Both Sides

Interestingly, this social recourse to using high-technology to permit a once-illicit pastime will also use the same technology to delimit who uses it. How? Well, the GPS and cell-triangulation can be used to identify those who are not within Delaware’s state lines.

If online gambling generates so much money (Delaware’s new law will increase its extant state lottery and casino incomes of $250 million by about $8 million to boot), then we are left to wonder that the technology can be used once again to perhaps eliminate under-aged gambling or betting addictions. Surely there must be ways to keep any state’s online casinos absolutely clean.

Stepping Into the Light of History

For better or worse, Delaware has jumped into history as the first American state to pioneer online casinos. It will be a humble pilot for the whole country on the issue of online gambling. But there are plenty of countries like the United Kingdom where legalization has occurred, and the results can be studied. The latest US social-policy theory privileges persuasion over the enforcing of rules. And this principle may indeed be used to guide the country as it experiments with allowing the public to gamble.

Some may believe it is a slippery slope, and a bad thing for the people of America in the long run. But those who back it may be more driven by local expediency, like the immediate need to increase public funding and preserve state services. Delaware’s governor is looking out for about 2500 casino jobs that can be safeguarded through the passage of the recent law.

In some places it may turn out to be a legal battle between moralists and pragmatists. Perhaps the pragmatists will achieve moral victories such as raising money to help problem gamblers who would never have been helped had the state continued its prohibitions. And perhaps moralists will become more pragmatic. All of them probably will keep checking in with Delaware to see what happens there.