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Crack down on illegal gambling websites

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In its most aggressive effort yet, the American Gaming Association on Thursday released a letter sent to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland calling on the Justice Department to crack down — tough — on offshore sports betting. illegal.

The AGM’s written request specifically names Bovada, MyBookie and BetOnline as companies that “blatantly violate federal and state laws.” Unregulated “games of skill” machines are also an appropriate target for the DOJ, AGA Chairman Bill Miller wrote following his promise to prosecute such operators in February.

“While the challenge of illegal gambling is not new, the brazen and coordinated way in which it is occurring – both online and in communities – has elevated this problem to a level that requires significant federal attention,” added Miller. “We urge the Department to make it a priority to act … to protect American consumers, crack down on illegal operators and enforce federal regulations.”

The AGA recommends that the DOJ “educate consumers about legal gambling options and the dangers associated with illegal operations;” investigate and charge the largest offshore operations; and clarify that skill-based machine manufacturers must comply with anti-money laundering standards. The association called on the government to pursue “aggressive enforcement action against entities that do not fully comply”.

Miller underscored the AGM’s sentiments, writing, “The illegal operators have been warned: their days as a scourge on our nation are numbered. These bad actors prey on vulnerable customers, provide no consumer protection, do not ensure integrity or fair play, and generate no economic benefit for states or tribal nations.

Status quo very good for some

AGA’s approach is not without its critics, particularly among professional gamblers who find the legal and regulated market lacking on many fronts.

The letter comes just ahead of next month’s fourth anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), allowing any state to allow legal sports betting. Since that ruling, 33 states and Washington, DC, have permitted such gambling, but it remains illegal in the three most populous states of California, Florida and Texas.

In his letter, Miller writes that “these illegal sites…benefit from competitive advantages that allow them to offer better odds and promotions and ignore any commitment to responsible gambling because they do not pay state and federal taxes or have comparable regulatory compliance costs and obligations”.

According to the AGA, consumers are “confused” because while 74% of sports bettors say it is important to only bet with legal providers, 52% said they continue to use illegal bookmakers. In fact, 63% of players in the AGA survey said they were surprised to learn that they bet with illegal sportsbooks.

Many of America’s top media outlets have regularly referenced offshore betting lines in articles, both before and since the PASPA decision in 2018, and Bovada has accounted for 50% of all internet sports betting searches the last year, according to the AGM.

Other concerns cited by AGA

Only a few states – including New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan – have passed laws allowing legal online casino operations in addition to sports betting. On that front, Miller wrote that illegal operators also sell aggressively to US consumers unaware of which sites are legal.

Meanwhile, the AGA says a growing number of companies are making machines that “imitate regulated gaming devices using drums or reels with badges or other symbols that players ‘spin’ to win prizes. price, including money”.

Again, Miller wrote, consumers are generally unaware that these devices are illegal.

“These machines are often linked to criminal activities, including money laundering, drug trafficking, violent crimes, etc.,” he said.