Offshore sports betting and “skill” slots in your city could be attracting federal attention

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Bill Miller, President and CEO of the Washington DC-based American Gaming Association (AGA), wrote a letter US Attorney General Merrick Garland urges him to direct the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to “great attention of the federal government‘ on illegal gambling in the country, shouted three prominent sportsbooks by name.

The letter is packed with interesting facts and statistics, as one would expect from a watchdog promoter focused on “promoting, educating and lobbying on behalf of the gaming entertainment industry through education and advocacy” when this trade group has a $261 billion Dollar Industry Represents Nearly 2 million employees nationwide generate $41 billion in direct tax revenue.

There are many reasons to believe that the motivation isn’t entirely based on consumer protection, but it’s good to bring it up at least half a dozen times because it backs up the monop argument[Einzig-durch-Verbot]helps.[oly-through-prohibitionargument[oly-through-prohibitionargument

The AGA asked the main judge to do so protection american consumers, crack on illegal operators and force Federal regulations by focusing on two main areas, the first being Sports betting and casinosand the second, unregulated “skill game“Machinery. The letter doesn’t make clear what these machines are, and that might be a means of illustrating that states don’t always know either.

The AGA demands that they be subject to the Johnson Act (15 U.S.C. §1171), which would require the machines to be registered and anyone dealing with “Manufacture, repair, purchase, sale, lease or use of these gaming devices entering interstate or foreign commerce should require registration with the Department“.

The letter states that the machines “clearly” meet the state definition of a gaming device.”notwithstanding any perceived ambiguity under state law“.

Sports betting and casinos

The other area the AGA would like the DOJ to crack down on is what it calls “illegal online sports betting and casinos.” While federal law on the illegality of interstate sports betting is clear through the Wire Act 1961, this is simply not the case for online casinos.

The last valid DOJ written statement on the matter was issued by the Obama DOJ, which stated that the Wire Act only applies to sports. While AG Jeff Session at one point in the Trump administration held that interstate/international online casino gambling was illegal, and later AG Rosen was sued on the matter, the Justice Department failed to issue a binding opinion that stood up in court would have . A federal judge negated the Trump administrator’s opinion in a case involving the New Hampshire Lottery, adding legal precedence to the earlier Obama Justice decision and opinion.

Gaming and lottery giant IGT (GTECH/Lottomatica) even went so far as to sue the DOJ last November, demanding a final settlement of the matter.

According to our previous coverage: “In an 18-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court in the company’s hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, the company asked the government to clarify its position through a declaratory judgment to determine once and for all whether the Act of 1961 applies to all interstate commerce in gambling or only to sports betting, for which it was originally written and passed during the Kennedy administration to crack down on organized crime.”

Illegal sports betting visible and accessible

According to Miller and the AGA, the Supreme Court’s repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018 has not resulted in unlicensed sports bettors coming to light or disappearing altogether.

Mueller writes: “With sports betting currently legal in 33 states and DC, more than 157 million American adults have – or will soon have – regulated, legal channels available to bet on sports in their home state. However, a huge illegal sports betting market continues to exist via offshore websites that have established well-known brands such as Bovada, MyBookie and BetOnline. that work with a high level of visibility and are easily accessible to any American with a smartphone or an internet connection.

This Illegal websites also enjoy many competitive advantages that allow them to offer better odds and promotions and ignore any responsible gaming obligation as they do not pay state and federal taxes or have comparable regulatory compliance costs and obligations.”

Bovada, MyBookie and BetOnline are hybrid sites that operate both sports betting and casinos.

“Beat the Big Ones”

It seems that the unlicensed sportsbooks are just marketing themselves better, perhaps because they can afford to offer better odds since they don’t pay taxes in the US and choose to pay experts to take their brands to the top bring up the search engine results pages.

According to Miller, the internet search was for offshore brands increased by almost 40% in the last year which surpassed search growth for licensed operators in the US”Bovada alone accounts for 50 percent of all search queries“, says the letter.

The AGA suggests that when the DOJ investigates and charges the most prominent offshore brands, it would draw consumer attention to the issue. Based on figures provided by the AGA, perhaps all consumers need is a little “awareness”. The letter fails to state the obvious; While it is 100% federally legal for Americans to play online casino games for real money, it is a federal crime for them to visit and wager at illegal sportsbooks.

74 percent of sports betting providers consider it important to only bet with legal providers, but 52 percent continue to rely on illegal bookmakers. Most of these consumers (63%) later say they are surprised to learn that they are betting on unregulated and illegal sports betting.”

Source: The American Gaming Association is asking the Justice Department to take action against illegal gamblingAGA, April 14, 2022

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