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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

AGA Now Open to Internet Gambling Regulation

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The American Gaming Association, a powerful Washington D.C.-based lobbying organization, has always been reluctant to support internet gambling and refused to take an official stand for or against the issue. But as of March 24, 2010, the AGA has revised its official statement on internet gambling to say that it believes oversight and protections integral in proposed regulation would be an improvement to existing laws, and the organization is now open to the concept.

In 2006, the AGA produced an official paper on internet gambling, and while it most simply contained an overview of the status of the issue, the conclusion read, in part: “Recent legislative proposals to curb online gambling would take an important step in protecting U.S. customers from the potential hazards of the current illegal, offshore, unregulated online gambling market. These measures alone, however, are not going to solve the problem. In fact, these proposals could have the unintended consequence of  forcing internet gambling further underground, making it more difficult for law enforcement to track.” The organization’s concerns were sincere and thus refused to take a formal stance.

However, on March 24, the AGA revised that position and made it official with a statement on its website . “The American Gaming Association has followed the issue of internet gambling since the mid 1990s. Historically, AGA members have questioned the adequacy of technological safeguards to prevent money laundering, underage gambling and participation by residents of jurisdictions where it is deemed illegal. After considerable study, however, our concerns about technology have been eliminated by advancements in the field, and the AGA believes that the technology now exists to properly regulate internet gambling with appropriate law enforcement oversight and to provide appropriate consumer protections for individuals gambling online…Thus, the AGA acknowledges that a properly regulated legal framework for internet gambling is the best way to protect consumers.”

The statement went on to say that any proposed legislation would need to pass three tests. First, it must not create competitive advantages or disadvantages for land-based casinos, lotteries, or pari-mutuel wagering facilities. Second, any type of gaming that is now legal must not be made illegal. And third, states’ rights must be respected. The AGA notes that it will made decisions of support on a “case-by-case basis.”

But at this time, CEO Frank Fahrenkopf Jr. told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that no statements of unequivocal support are forthcoming. “We’re not endorsing any of the bills now in the loop,” he said.

However, none of the current proposed legislation has made it beyond committee - most have not even made it to committee, much less close to hitting the floor of Congress for a vote - so there is time for the AGA to examine any pending bills, speak to authors about possible changes, and decide to ultimately endorse and lobby for a bill. The new AGA stance is a step in a positive direction for online gaming.

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