New AGA Code Addresses Online Gambling
The American Gaming Association has long tried to stay away from addressing the topic of online gambling in the United States. But in the latest release of its updated Code of Conduct for Responsible Gaming, online gambling is specifically addressed.
When the AGA was founded in 1994, it was primarily a lobbying organization for the land-based casino industry that was consistently expanding in scope and size. Original members included casino owners and executives, some employees, and representatives of gaming product companies, but its membership has since grown to include a wide variety of suppliers, commercial and tribal casinos, and numerous other entities. It claims to support the $240 billion US casino industry, consisting of 1.7 million jobs in 40 states. And its mission, in its own words, is “to be the single most effective champion of the industry, relentlessly protecting against harmful and often misinformed public policies, and paving a path for growth, innovation and reinvestment.”
For the first time, the AGA has included online gambling in the new code of conduct, marking a significant point in the relationship between US land-based and online gaming relations.
Responsible Gaming Online
The code of conduct has been a part of the AGA’s core mission since 2003, and the updates ensure that the wording is consistent with industry standards and includes all of the latest technological, societal, and legal advancements.
The latest edition of the code is now written to address all forms of gaming in the US, including online and mobile. While many of the responsible gaming standards and requirements are the same for all types of gambling, the code now mentions online in the “to prevent underage gambling” section in the “pledge to our patrons.” It states: AGA casino companies will communicate the legal age to gamble through messaging, as appropriate, in their properties, on their casinos’ online platforms and in gambling promotions.”
Other changes to the code include more transparency regarding casino game odds and payout figures, more transparency in advertising, and better access for customers to responsible gambling educational material and addiction help services.
New Jersey in the Spotlight
When New Jersey legalized online gambling nearly four years ago, the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement took special care to develop a comprehensive set of rules to protect customers in the online poker and casino game realm. And in the several years of operation thus far, there have been no reports of violations in the state.
The AGA chose to kick off its Responsible Gaming Education Week at the beginning of August in Atlantic City, perhaps to show the new relationship between the AGA and the online gambling sector. And among those in attendance and participation were representatives of Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts – both operators of online gaming sites – as well as David Rebuck, Director of the DGE in New Jersey.
Rebuck moderated the event, as he and others addressed issues in the industry via a panel discussion, headed up by the new AGA President and CEO, Geoff Freeman.
A New Day for the AGA
It was only a few years ago that the AGA and online poker had a very public split, public enough to be reported by the Wall Street Journal.
At that time in 2014, the AGA told the media that online gaming was “an issue that the association cannot lead on” because so many casinos held differing opinions about the legality and positivity of online gambling. Many casinos feared cannibalization, that online gaming would take customers and business away from land-based properties, but the cohesive relationship between the two forms of gambling in New Jersey has shown that the opposite is true. Online gambling compliments the original brick-and-mortar casino with which it partners.
It seems that times have changed, and the AGA is doing so as well. While the organization has yet to lobby on behalf of online gambling or put effort into the legalization of the games on the state or federal level, its willingness to embrace the newest player in the industry is positive.