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Play it Safe

Powerful partners can help to end illegal gambling in the United States

The “Stop Illegal Gambling-Play it Safe” initiative, which aims to combat illegal gambling operations around the country and distinguishes our highly regulated industry from the dangers of illegal gambling, has been met with open arms. We have received overwhelming feedback and press that has resulted in meaningful partnerships and more opportunities to educate the public and policymakers about the dangers of illegal gambling.

Gaming has grown, matured and prospered as a result of its lawful, regulated status. Legal gaming now supports more than 1.7 million American jobs and generates $38 billion in tax revenues to local, state and federal governments. Our industry is far different from the criminal networks that rely on illegal gambling to fund violent crimes and drug and human trafficking, and this initiative seeks to distinguish those vast differences.

The AGA is focusing on four key areas of illegal gambling: illegal sports betting, black market machines, internet sweepstakes cafes and illegal online betting.

One of the partnerships that I am most proud of is the formation of our Illegal Gambling Advisory Board. We brought together some of the brightest, most experienced professionals from different backgrounds to tackle this multibillion-dollar criminal enterprise. 

Members of the board will provide advice regarding industry efforts to develop actionable tools for law enforcement and to reduce the demand through public awareness; guide partnerships with law enforcement at the local, state, federal and international levels; and provide strategies and perspective on necessary steps to plug existing holes in enforcement efforts.

The board is comprised of Tim Murphy (chair), former deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Ed Davis, former Boston police commissioner; James Dinkins, former executive associate director at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations; J.B. Van Hollen, former Wisconsin state attorney general, U.S. attorney and district attorney; and Bill Young, former Clark County sheriff and head of the Las Vegas Metro Police Department, current senior vice president of compliance and security at Station Casinos.

The AGA also has continued to work with attorneys general from around the country. Recently, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) established a “Gaming Committee,” which will be co-chaired by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt will also serve as a member of the committee. This committee will focus on illegal gambling, as well as other emerging issues that may affect the gaming industry. The AGA will play an important role in assisting the committee as it tackles these issues.

In addition, local law enforcement plays an important role in stopping illegal gambling. This past month, the AGA spoke at the National Sheriffs Association’s annual conference in Baltimore. Addressing the Government Affairs Committee, we were joined by Michael Botticelli, director of national drug control policy, and other representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Lastly, to extend the dialogue about illegal gambling, the AGA served on a panel with the FBI at the Conference of Western Attorneys General in July. Moderated by Attorney General Brnovich, the panel addressed more than 20 attorneys general, many who have gaming in their states.

The public needs to be warned about illegal gambling. They need to be protected, and illegal operations need to be shut down. The AGA is committed to working with law enforcement and elected officials to expose illegal gambling, protect consumers and restore the revenue and jobs lost to shady, predatory operators.

While this initiative is still young, the AGA will continue to work collaboratively with law enforcement, elected officials and gaming companies across the country to ensure that our industry is not tarnished by unregulated illegal gambling operations.