AGA President Asks Gaming Execs and State Officials to Work Together against Illegal Gambling
Geoff Freeman, president of the American Gaming Association, has asked for America’s 1,000 casinos to work with the individual U.S. states to stop illegal gambling in the United States. Mr. Freeman says that the efforts to end illegal gambling to this point have been piece mail, but a concerted and coordinated effort would lead to a more vivid understanding by the public of the different between legal and illegal gambling.
Freeman made his formal request for collaboration at the group meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General, which gathers the lead prosecutor for each state in an annual conference. The AGA’s president visited with the NAAG’s membership in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Greater Distinction Must Be Made
It is Freeman’s contention that a greater distinction needs to be made between the legal and illegal gambling activities in the United States. He said that the distinction must get through to the average American voter, because it is too easy to confuse one type of gaming for another, when one is not involved in the day-to-day business. In the debate over online gambling in the US Senate and House of Representatives, even members of the Congress who sit on Internet committees seem to get confused about the differences in regulated and unregulated gaming.
States and Casinos Have a Mutual Interest
President Freeman said that the attorneys general and the American gambling industry have a “mutual interest” in putting a stop to illegal gambling opportunities. While shutting down illegal card rooms and individual poker nights might be impossible for traditional law enforcement, the Internet is a construct which can be trawled for inappropriate gaming activity. Those websites can be shut down, if all the people with vested interests in law enforcement worked together.
Up to $150 Billion Lost Each Year
The AGA president says that illegal gambling is a draining massive amounts of cash from the legitimate casinos in the country. He also stated that the same banned activity is taking large amounts of tax revenues away from the states.
Illegal gaming operations do not pay taxes to governmental authorities in the United States. This represents a tremendous drain of resources on American governments, to the tune of billions of dollars a year. The AGA estimates $150 billion a year is lost to the legit industry and the state governments through illegal gambling activities.
Illegal Gaming Operations
Illegal gambling also places patrons at risk of exploitation. Unregulated gaming sites might lure customers with big bonuses and other incentives, then refuse to pay winnings if the game goes against the house. In those circumstances, no legal recourse would exist for players.
Targets of Freeman’s Wrath
Geoff Freeman mentioned a litany of gaming operation he wants to target. These include offshore online casinos, card rooms, and sportsbooks; illegal bookmakers (“bookies”) located inside the United States; and illegal slot machine cafes in stripmalls and black market venues around the country.
The legal gaming industry in the United States makes about $240 billion a year. That’s an impressive number, but Freeman believes the number could be closer to $400 million–certainly above $300 million a year–if the authorities and industry executives made a concerted effort to eliminate illegal gambling in the USA. While no such activities could ever fully be eliminated, not enough is being done at present to systematically eliminate the problem.
About the AGA
The American Gaming Association represents a broad cross-section of the gambling industry of the United States. A number of gaming operators and support companies have seats on the AGA Board of Directors: MGM Resorts (2), Aristocrat Leisure, Boyd Gaming, CG Technology, Churchill Downs, The Cordish Companies, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Konami Gaming, Las Vegas Sands Corp., Novomatic, Penn National Gaming, Pinnacle Entertainment, Global Cash Access, Greenwood Racing, Station Casinos, William Hill US, Scientific Games, IGT/GTECH, Isle of Capri Casinos, and the Wynn Las Vegas.
Among the top American casino operators, only Caesars Entertainment is not represented, though that company is going through a transitional period and was a member of the board even six months ago.
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