Gaming Companies Urge Next Attorney General to Join Fight Against Illegal Gambling

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American Gaming Association letter to Judiciary Committee ahead of Attorney General confirmation hearing highlights failed sports betting law


Americans will wager in excess of $4 billion illegally on next month’s Super Bowl

Washington, DC – In a letter sent today, the American Gaming Association (AGA) urged Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), ranking member, to consider the important role the next U.S. attorney general will play in enforcing laws combating illegal gambling operations. The AGA’s letter comes as the Judiciary Committee begins nomination hearings of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) to be the next attorney general.

“The American Gaming Association requests that you bear in mind the importance of the Department of Justice in cracking down on illegal gambling activities across the country,” wrote Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA, in the letter. “We hope the next attorney general will welcome opportunities to work with Congress to effectively address illegal gambling.”

The gaming industry has forged strong ties with law enforcement to expose and eliminate illegal gambling activities, which fund large criminal enterprises involved in human trafficking, racketeering, money laundering, extortion and fraud.

Illegal gambling takes many forms: illicit machines, Internet sweepstakes cafes, online and often offshore wagering, and animal betting. “In working with state and local law enforcement, the next attorney general can make significant progress in these areas through enforcement action,” wrote Freeman.

While calling for action to crack down on illegal gambling, Freeman also noted the failed federal sports betting ban that should be changed in favor of a regulated market.

“The most prevalent form of illegal betting, however, is sports betting, and requires a different approach. Today, the 1992Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) bans sports betting outside of Nevada. But instead of restricting betting, the federal ban has only fueled a growing $150 billion illegal market with no consumer protections, no tax benefits for communities and no safeguards for sport integrity. The past 25 years and society’s evolving attitudes have proven that enforcement is very unlikely to work, which is why we are focused on regulation – which the incoming president appears to support,” wrote Freeman.

Next month, Americans will illegally bet in excess of $4 billion on the Super Bowl, and President-elect Donald Trump has acknowledged the massive illegal market. In a 2015 interview, he seemed to agree with many law enforcement officials who prefer a regulated market. “I’m OK with it because it’s happening anyway. Whether you have it (PASPA) or you don’t have it, you have it (sports betting),” said the President-elect.

“The next attorney general will be forced to use limited resources in the most effective manner,” wrote Freeman in the letter. “We encourage a new legal approach that would dramatically reduce the illegal sports betting market and allow law enforcement at every level to focus on other pressing matters. In the meantime, continued vigilance, focus and resources are required to combat other forms of illegal gambling and, until the federal ban is lifted, illicit sports betting.”

Read the entire letter here.

About AGA: The American Gaming Association is the premier national trade group representing the $240 billion U.S. casino industry, which supports 1.7 million jobs in 40 states. AGA members include commercial and tribal casino operators, suppliers and other entities affiliated with the gaming industry. It is the mission of the AGA 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.