American Gaming Association Asks FBI to Pursue Offshore Sportsbooks, Casinos
The American Gaming Association (AGA) is the lobbying arm of the commercial casino industry that last year generated a record $53 billion in gaming revenue. But AGA President and Chief Executive Bill Miller says the legal, regulated commercial industry would be substantially richer if it weren’t for illegal, unregulated offshore operators.
The AGA last month detailed the size and scope of the unregulated online gaming industry, which operates from iGaming havens such as Malta, the Isle of Man, and the Philippines.
The industry association believes around $511 billion is gambled each year unlawfully over the internet through unregulated platforms. As a result, the AGA says states are being robbed of around $13 billion each year in associated tax income.
Speaking last week at the National Conference of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS) at Resorts World Las Vegas on the Strip, Miller expressed his hope that federal law enforcement agencies soon go after such rogue offshore gaming facilitators.
More Than a Decade Since Last Crackdown
It’s been more than 11 years since federal law enforcement agencies last seized unregulated gaming websites targeting US households.
It was on April 15, 2011, that online poker’s three largest operators at the time — PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker/Ultimate Bet (Cereus Poker Network) — were raided by the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). On that day, which became dubbed poker’s “Black Friday,” federal law enforcement seized the online assets of the internet networks that operated from foreign jurisdictions.
Miller says it’s past due that the FBI take further action against the many iGaming and online sportsbooks that continue to take bets from US customers. The AGA chief is requesting that the FBI seize such rogue offshore operators’ US-facing operations and that the Justice Department follow up with indictments against such companies.
Miller’s wish for offshore gaming operators to face criminal charges in the US is a twofold ambition. First, Miller believes such indictments would lead to many of the unregulated gaming sites going offline in the US. And second, an indictment against an owner and/or offshore gaming entity would make it considerably more difficult for that person and/or company to enter a legal, regulated industry in the future.
An indictment would make it very difficult for someone who currently lives in that gray market to ever get licensed [in a regulated market],” Miller told the NCLGS audience.
State gaming regulators have historically deemed former bad actors unsuitable to receive key licenses needed to operate in legal, regulated jurisdictions.
The DOJ hasn’t commented or responded to Miller’s plea, despite the federal agency being in receipt of his request for more than eight months. In April, Miller wrote Attorney General Merrick Garland about the ongoing issue of offshore iGaming and sportsbook websites targeting US gamblers online.
“The AGA urges the Department to make it a priority to act on the illegal online sportsbooks and casinos to protect US consumers, crack down on illegal operators, and enforce federal regulations,” Miller said.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) generally prohibits a gambling business from accepting real-money wagers over the internet. Exemptions, however, have been created in states that have authorized iGaming and online sports betting, but only for state-licensed entities.
iGaming platforms are licensed in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia, and Connecticut. Online sports betting is legal and regulated in 22 states, with more expected in the near future.
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