WASHINGTON – The latest round of legal action against online gambling companies was praised today by the American Gaming Association (AGA), but the AGA’s president and CEO, Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., called the actions a “half measure” toward fixing the problem and reiterated his call for federally sanctioned licensing and regulation of online poker.
“Strong enforcement against illegal operators and unambiguous U.S. laws is vital,” Fahrenkopf said. “Unfortunately, these indictments are only a half measure. The full solution is law enforcement and federally sanctioned state licensing and regulation of online poker for gaming companies that currently abide by U.S. law.”
Millions of Americans bet billions of dollars a year at foreign websites, and they will continue to do so as long as there are sites they can access. In fact, in the immediate aftermath of online poker’s April 15 “Black Friday” some of the 300 companies that continued to operate in the U.S., in spite of the law, saw a surge in new business. Today, there are more than 1,000 real-money websites operated by these offshore operators that still target the U.S. market. The fact that these indictments were handed down by a grand jury in Maryland yesterday, despite the April 15 Justice Department actions, is further proof that offshore operators will continue to cater to demand and develop new techniques to circumvent the barriers put in place.
“Legislation is needed that removes the current ambiguity of UIGEA and provides a strong regulatory framework to preserve states’ rights to determine the online poker options available to their residents,” Fahrenkopf added.
Licensing, regulation and enforcement working together can:
- Prevent the use of online poker sites for money laundering or other illegal purposes.
- Exclude minors.
- Restrict access to online poker from individuals residing in states and jurisdictions where online gambling is illegal.
- Effectively address problem gambling by providing tools allowing customers to control their own gambling.
- Ensure that online poker games are fair to consumers by preventing cheating by players, operators or through the use of poker “bots.”
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.