WASHINGTON – The head of the U.S. commercial casino industry today declared, “there are no longer any good reasons to put U.S. citizens at risk by continuing to outlaw online poker in the U.S.” He also called on Congress to pass laws toughening enforcement against illegal online gambling operators.
Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., president and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA), made the statement as his group introduced an online poker Code of Conduct, outlining the measures it thinks are necessary to institute an effective regulatory system that will protect American consumers, keep minors from gambling, provide tools to help problem gamblers, and create provisions to help law enforcement identify and prosecute illegal operators.
While the U.S. Justice Department has taken steps to shut down illegal off-shore online gambling sites, millions of Americans continue to play online poker every day.
“The AGA thinks online poker operators must adhere to the same stringent regulations that have proven effective in governing brick-and-mortar casinos,” Fahrenkopf said. “If online poker is legalized in the U.S., implementation of the principles of the Code of Conduct will ensure that American consumers are playing online poker in a fair and secure environment provided by a responsible operator.”
In addition to the Code of Conduct, the AGA introduced a YouTube video that makes the case for establishing federal guidelines that would allow states to license and regulate online poker, ensure American consumers are protected and that the jobs and revenues associated with the industry are realized in the U.S.
The Wild-West-themed video ties poker’s earliest and most lawless periods to today’s unregulated, illegal operators and the risky, anything-goes environment in which U.S. online poker players currently are wagering. The video briefly recounts the history of poker in the United States and reminds viewers that without regulation and enforcement, poker establishments were not always run fairly.
The video also outlines the current environment in which Americans are once again playing poker – this time online – in a risky environment without regulation and where law enforcement has limited ability to protect them. It points out that the U.S. is losing thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to foreign countries through the actions of the companies that are operating illegally. The video closes by asking Congress to approve legislation allowing states to license and regulate online poker so the millions of Americans who play online poker can do so safely with responsible, law-abiding operators.
The Code of Conduct proposes the following six principles online poker companies should follow in order to obtain a license. Companies should:
- Conduct extensive background checks that will keep criminals out of the business;
- Install proper identification of every U.S. online poker player to assist law enforcement and keep minors, consumers from unlawful jurisdictions and cheaters from playing;
- Undergo regular testing and auditing of online poker software to ensure that games are fair and honest;
- Implement rigorous player exclusion processes to prevent minors, players from illegal U.S. jurisdictions and cheaters from accessing online poker sites;
- Institute effective responsible gaming protections on operator sites to educate patrons and provide problem gamblers easy access to tools to help control their behavior; and,
- Maintain stringent anti-money-laundering procedures that will assist the government in its law enforcement efforts.
“Only a few years ago, the technology and operating processes did not exist to implement and enforce the principles of the Code,” Fahrenkopf said. “But online gambling is legal in some 85 jurisdictions today, and the technology that eliminates the risks that once concerned the AGA and others has now been proven through actual use.”
To view the YouTube video, visit www.youtube.com/americangamingassoc.
The Code of Conduct is housed on a new “Online Poker Headquarters” section of the AGA website. Accessible via www.americangaming.org/onlinepokerHQ, the site includes resources such as an issue backgrounder and the AGA’s recent white paper on online gambling; AGA statements, press releases and opinion pieces related to online poker; and directions for how to get involved.
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The AGA represents the commercial casino-entertainment industry by addressing federal legislative and regulatory issues. The association also serves as a clearinghouse for information, develops educational and advocacy programs, and provides leadership on industry-related issues of public concern.