AGA renews call for federal regulation

18 July 2013

The American Gaming Association (AGA) applauded yesterday’s US Senate hearing on online gambling and renewed its calls for the federal regulatory system it favours to be followed as a regulatory course over the state-by -state model currently taking shape in the American market.

The AGA also called for a ban on online casino-style ‘games of chance’ while a federal regulatory set up would make the business model much more attractive for AGA members offering online poker.

Geoff Freeman, the newly-appointed president and chief executive of the AGA, said: “Internet poker is a reality that is here to stay. 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.”

The AGA supports the current public policy approach where the federal government would establish minimum regulatory standards 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 the 2011 Justice Department interpretation of the 1961 Wire Act where only sportsbetting was subject to the Act, thus opening the door to the current state-level regulation of online poker.

“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,” added 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.”

Yesterday’s Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing was titled The Expansion Of Internet Gambling: Assessing Consumer Protection Concerns and covered issues such as the need to modernise 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.

For the AGA, ‘these concerns further demonstrate the need for federal action on the rapid expansion of online gaming in the United States’.