Congressional letter urging action into illegal market welcomed by AGA

US Congress

The American Gaming Association has welcomed a Congressional letter that encourages an investigation into the illegal market, stating that eradicating such entities is one of the “top priorities” of the gaming industry association.

The communication, issued to the Department of Justice and signed by 28 members of congress, labels illegal gambling operations as “predatory operations” that they state “expose our constituents to financial and cyber vulnerabilities”.

It is added that they “do not have protocols to address money laundering, sports integrity, or age restrictions; and undermine states’ efforts to capture much needed tax revenue through legal sports betting channels”.

Citing the confusion created for consumers, with these “dangerous operators” not being “relegated to the dark web, but instead are easily accessed through any computer or smartphone,” the members of congress urge that “we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that the illegal market is thriving and operating unfettered”.

The missive, which names Bovada, MyBookie and BetOnline as examples of “sophisticated platforms that are nearly indistinguishable from those of legal providers,” also suggests that internet searches nationwide for offshore sportsbooks increased by almost 40 per cent in 2021.

“Moreover, the protections Americans have learned to expect from legal regulated sportsbooks, like responsible gaming functions, secured personal and financial information, and identity verification, are non-existent,” the letter elaborated. 

“The illegal operators are not interested in helping bettors wager responsibly by providing checks like time limits, budgets, or self-exclusion. They do not adhere to federal or state financial regulations, so consumers can never be sure if their information is secure or if they will receive their winnings. 

“These operators are not bound by age restrictions, meaning children and young adults can be exploited by these websites. 

“Finally, these illegal operators do not help promote the integrity of sporting contests by sharing with sports leagues information related to unusual betting patterns or insider betting, as many regulated sportsbooks do.” 

Welcoming the development, Bill Miller, AGA CEO, commented: “Offshore gambling websites are a significant threat to consumer protections and the economic benefits legal gaming provides for communities across the country. Eradicating these websites, and all forms of illegal gambling, is one of AGA’s top priorities.

“After our initial outreach to the Department of Justice in April, today’s letter to Attorney General Garland demonstrates the broad interest in addressing illegal gaming. We are grateful to Gaming Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Titus and Reschenthaler for their leadership and the Members who joined this call to action.  

“Our country’s leaders are clearly and appropriately alarmed by the prevalence of offshore sportsbooks and law enforcement must act to identify the worst actors, investigate and prosecute them.  

“We look forward to continuing to work with allies on the Hill, sports leagues and the Department of Justice to prioritise robust enforcement that will protect Americans from the predatory illegal marketplace.”