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Providers’ Investments In AST SpaceMobile Might Expand Online Casino Game Access

Investments in AST SpaceMobile could improve access to online casinos for people in rural parts of the United States.

Satellite Internet
Photo by Shutterstock/Greenbutterfly
Derek Helling Avatar
4 mins read

If you had the foresight to buy AST SpaceMobile stock before January, your happiness with that decision is probably astronomical. Investments by some of the biggest communications providers in the United States have rocketed AST’s stock price in 2024.

AST’s ambition is big. If it succeeds, the ramifications could be even bigger for life throughout the US. That would especially apply to people living in more rural areas. Additionally, AST’s success could be a positive development for online gambling companies in the US.

AST SpaceMobile looks to address internet access inequity

For people living in the US, access to the Internet and the quality/reliability of that access depends on several factors. That includes the income you can devote to that service and where you live.

While it’s unclear to what degree, if at all, AST’s business might impact the socioeconomic factors, geography might become far less important. AST aims to enable the delivery of high-speed internet to mobile devices like smartphones via satellites orbiting Earth instead of towers on the planet’s surface and/or underground cables.

Satellite internet as a general concept is not new. The latest US Census data1 suggests people accessing the internet that way has more than doubled since 2015. According to that data, almost 7% of people in the US use a satellite connection as their primary means of access.

While such access does solve issues of geography, there are barriers to entry. Again, the socioeconomic factor comes into play. Buying or renting the necessary equipment to access the service can be cost-prohibitive. Furthermore, the connection can be low-quality and unreliable.

AST could somewhat address those barriers by eliminating the cost of additional equipment. If users have a smartphone, they would have all they need to access a high-quality, reliable internet connection. If AST is successful, that is.

Another caveat to that premise is that who could access the service and how much it would cost is currently unknown. That might cancel out any savings people would experience from only needing their smartphones to connect.

Recent investments could improve AST’s chances of success and potentially speed up the process. At the same time, questions remain.

Communications, technology companies go all-in on satellite data

In January, a joint investment from AT&T and Google2 increase the gravitational pull of more funding for AST. At that time, AST said it was still developing its hardware, which it characterized as having 10 times more data transmission capacity than existing satellites.

On Wednesday, Verizon docked with AST SpaceMobile3, throwing in another $100 million. According to Michael Sheetz of CNBC, the latest update is that AST hopes to launch its first five satellites later this year. This might be the new version of the space race.

The other of the big three mobile communications providers in the US, T-Mobile, has partnered with Starlink toward the same end. In addition, Apple has devoted considerable resources to developing a proprietary satellite data service for its mobile devices, GlobalStar.

Which of these ventures will produce a stellar service first, and the details of such services, are still hurling through the galaxy of the hypothetical. There have been no announcements about whether providers like AT&T would restrict access to this service or charge a premium for it, as just a couple of examples.

Amid those questions, the impact of the services for online gambling companies could be like finding a meteor made of gold.

Online casino operators could hail satellite data advancements

Currently, the quality and reliability of access to the internet for online casino players in the appropriate US states might not be a big concern for operators of those casinos. Just seven states have a regulated system for such gaming, with Nevada also affording players the option to play poker online.

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • West Virginia

According to a FiveThirtyEight analysis4 of US Census Bureau data, seven of those eight states comprise a third of the most urban states. The outlier is West Virginia, which ranked 42nd for urbanization. Within this contingent outside of West Virginia, socioeconomic factors are likely a bigger hindrance to a quality internet connection than geography.

That means customer access to the internet is probably not a big worry for brands like BetMGM Casino right now. If more states legalize online casino play, however, it could become more of a concern. Take Iowa, for instance.

While immediate prospects remain dim, there has been legislation to expand the framework of regulated online gambling in Iowa to include casino products for consecutive years. Iowa ranks just 40th in FiveThirtyEight’s urbanization table.

Several other states offering legal online sports betting also sit in the bottom half of the urban ranking. Those are:

  • Arkansas
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana (most of the state)
  • Maine
  • Mississippi (on casino grounds)
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Wyoming

That rural vs. urban breakdown doesn’t mean that the population totals in those states are insignificant, either. A 2022 population estimate from the US Dept. of Agriculture5 ranks North Carolina ninth among US states and Tennessee 14th, for instance.

Additionally, the combined populations of all those states represent a significant portion of online casinos’ potential customers. Those people having a quality and reliable internet connection will be pivotal if they are to become players on apps like FanDuel Casino.

An intermittent or slow connection could frustrate players and make them averse to online casino games. If ventures like AST’s are successful, there would be one less barrier to quality access. That could touch down at the same time that states expand their gambling landscapes, too.

Sources

  1. Satellite Internet Statistics ↩︎
  2. Google and AT&T join $155 million AST SpaceMobile Investment ↩︎
  3. AST SpaceMobile stock surges 69%, its best day ever, after Verizon satellite internet deal ↩︎
  4. How Urban Or Rural Is Your State? And What Does That Mean For The 2020 Election? ↩︎
  5. USDA Economic Research Service ↩︎
Derek Helling Avatar
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Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

View all posts by Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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