AGA Wants to Join Forces with Attorneys Generals to Fight Illegal Gambling

In a speech to the National Association of Attorneys General, American Gaming Association President Geoff Freeman (l.) has called for a partnership between legal gaming and attorneys general of the states to crack down on illegal gambling.

At the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Presidential Initiative Summit last week at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi Geoff Freeman, president of the American Gaming Association called for a crackdown on illegal gambling.

One of the summit’s keynote speakers, Freeman introduced the “Stop Illegal Gambling – Play it Safe” initiative, which includes four areas of concern, Illegal Sports Betting; Black Market Machines; Internet Sweepstakes Cafes; and Illegal Online Operators.

According to Freeman, such activities prey on vulnerable players, drain off money that the state would collect and use for local services, and hurts the reputation of the industry. And, of course, it also takes money away from legal casinos.

“Legal and regulated casino gaming in America is based on a foundation of integrity—something that is sorely lacking in the multi-billion dollar illegal gambling sector,” said the AGA president. “Our industry is committed to working with law enforcement to expose illegal gambling, protect consumers and restore the revenue and jobs lost to shady, predatory operators.”

Freeman asked the law enforcement community to make a distinction between these activities and legal gaming. The initiative Freeman introduced hopes to draw a very distinct line between legal gaming and illegal gambling.

In a statement released last week, Freeman said he has received encouragement from NAAG President Jim Hood, who is attorney general of Mississippi and others at the summit.

Michael Moore, president of the National District Attorneys Association commented, and State Attorney for Huron, South Dakota, reacted to Freeman’s proposal, “Illegal gambling transcends all levels of law enforcement and our prosecutors often carry the torch to confront these operations. We’re excited about the initial dialogue with the AGA to pool our expertise to train and equip our nation’s prosecutors with the tools to attack these illegal bad actors head on.”

Karen White, executive director of the Conference of Western Attorneys General, added, “The Conference of Western Attorneys General and the Alliance Partnership are pleased to partner with the AGA to educate, train, and empower law enforcement in the U.S. and abroad both in July at our Annual Meeting and in October with our counterparts in Mexico. We believe fostering good public and private sector collaboration enhances public safety.”

Announcement of the new initiative is the first step in working to build partnerships with likeminded allies, develop authoritative research that exposes the depth and breadth of the problem and coalesce the industry and other stakeholders in developing solutions that protect consumers and restore the revenue and jobs lost to illegal gambling operations,” wrote Freeman.

During his speech Freeman said his industry and law enforcement have a “shared interest” in snuffing out illegal gambling. He said the AGA plans to fund research to ferret out the connection between illegal gambling and organized crime.

“Those involved in illegal gambling are using the proceeds to fund what are truly terrible and criminal behaviors,” he declared. He said that if states don’t want to enforce the laws against activities such as sports betting that they should legalize them so they can be regulated and taxed—which would allow legitimate casinos to compete against them on a level playing field.

The AGA is the largest national trade group representing the gaming industry and includes members from commercial and tribal gaming.