Gaming Association, Attorneys General Team Up to Fight Illegal Gambling
Emphasizing differences between illegal gambling and his own highly regulated industry, the head of the American Gaming Association went to the National Association of Attorneys General, offering a plan for the two groups to work together on to fight something that "preys on the vulnerable."
The American Gaming Association (AGA) and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) each have important reasons for standing against illegal gambling. And on Monday, the two groups stood together.
AGA President and CEO Geoff Freeman took the stage at NAAG’s Presidential Initiative Summit at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino, in Biloxi, Mississippi, launching a new initiative called “Stop Illegal Gambling—Play it Safe.” The new program, which relies on fostering relationships between local police departments and the broader law enforcement sector, is meant to protect consumers against the dangers of illegal gambling, which, AGA notes, can have dire effects on local communities.
Freeman, who suggested that illegal gambling was just as serious an issue as cybersecurity or so-called patent trolls, contrasted illegal gambling’s dangers with the well-regulated nature of the legitimate gaming industry.
“Illegal gambling operations are willing to take all comers. They don’t exclude underage gamblers. They are not licensed or subject to criminal background checks. Illegal gambling preys on the vulnerable,” Freeman said in his comments. “In contrast, our industry spends millions of dollars on responsible gaming programs to help the 1 percent of the adult population prone to compulsive gambling. For illegal operators, such people are their target customers.”
Freeman pointed to the value that legal gambling can bring to a local economy by using the Biloxi venue as an example. “Biloxi is living proof of what legal gaming can mean to a town,” Freeman added.
Jim Hood, NAAG’s president and Mississippi’s attorney general, welcomed the overture and noted that his own state was looking into the issue.
“I appreciate the American Gaming Association’s proactive partnership with law enforcement,” Hood said in a statement. “There is clearly a stark difference between the legal regulated gaming market and illegal bad actors that prey on consumers. I am exploring the idea of establishing a committee to address illegal gambling.”