The American Gaming Association today applauded United States Senate attention to the need for effective regulation of online gambling. Reports suggest that an alarming number of Americans spend billions of dollars annually on illegal Internet gambling made possible by foreign companies that fail to verify age and offer basic consumer protections. To address current illegal activity and the threat posed by a state-by-state gambling expansion, the encourages a federal ban on online casino-style “games of chance” and effective regulatory oversight of Internet poker.
“Internet poker is a reality that is here to stay,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association. “The question is whether Congress will ensure minimum regulatory standards of online poker, protect consumers, exclude bad actors from the American market and provide Native American tribes with an appropriate regulatory framework.”
Under the public policy approach encouraged by the AGA, the federal government would establish minimum regulatory standards – as it does for all forms of interstate commerce – for states that wish to offer online poker. Individual states would then choose whether or not to make online poker available within their borders, license companies to participate and build upon the federal regulatory foundation. This approach is counter to the current state-by-state gambling expansion made possible by a 2011 Justice Department interpretation of the 1961 Wire Act.
“The reasonable approach to online poker regulation proposed by the gaming industry is currently under threat by the gambling expansion free-for-all about to take place at the state level,” said Freeman. “If the federal government fails to rapidly act, the United States may soon experience the largest expansion of gambling in its history, including online slots, blackjack and other traditional casino games of chance.”
The Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing, titled “The Expansion of Internet Gambling: Assessing Consumer Protection Concerns” raised numerous valid issues, including the need to: modernize federal laws to effectively combat criminal enterprise and unsafe activities; employ readily available existing technology to ensure consumer protections adhere to regulatory framework; and establish strong controls that simply cannot be done most effectively, efficiently and safely without federal action. These concerns further demonstrate the need for federal action on the rapid expansion of online gaming in the United States.
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.