In one of its most aggressive moves yet, the American Gaming Association (AGA) on Thursday released a letter urging the Justice Department to crack down on illegal gambling.
Addressed to US Attorney General Merrick Garland, the letter specifically demands federal action against illegal online sportsbooks and casinos and singles out Bovada, MyBookie, and BetOnline.
The AGA also asks the DoJ to target unregulated “skill game” machines.
“While the challenge of illegal gambling is not new,” writes AGA President and CEO Bill Miller, “the brazen and coordinated manner in which it occurs — both online and in communities — has elevated this problem to a level that requires significant federal attention.”
He added, “We urge the Department to make it a priority to act…to protect American consumers, crackdown on illegal operators, and enforce federal regulations.”
Since the Supreme Court struck down a federal law against sports betting in 2018, 33 states and Washington DC have authorized sports wagering, and 21 have legalized mobile sports betting in some capacity.
Maybe more apps after all: New state budget may create opportunity to expand NY mobile sports betting
Why Legal Gaming Operators Are Angry
The AGA is a lobbying agency founded in 1994, with a membership of more than 70 commercial and tribal casino operators, US-licensed gaming suppliers and equipment manufacturers, sports wagering operators, financial institutions, and “other key stakeholders in the gaming industry.”
The AGA and others argue that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which made sports betting illegal from 1992 until the Supreme Court overturned it in 2018, simply sent sports betting underground. Before the federal ban on sports betting was lifted in 2018, the illegal sports betting market was estimated to be more than $150 billion per year.
The AGA argues in its letter that illegal operators are dangerous for consumers and suck dollars out of the US economy. They also complained that illegal operators could offer better odds and promotions since they aren’t restricted by regulatory compliance.
In addition, the AGA accuses illegal operators of duping consumers. A 2020 AGA survey claims that 63% of sports bettors said they often didn’t realize when they were betting through illegal sportsbooks instead of legal avenues.
The letter blames unregulated sports wagering for increasing criminal activity, operating with zero transparency or protection for consumers, and failing to generate any economic benefit for states or tribal nations.
New betting favorite: Nets vs. Celtics betting odds flip favorite quickly after posting
What Is The AGA Asking The DOJ To Do?
In its letter, the AGA asks the DoJ to prioritize educating consumers on legal gaming operations and the risks associated with illegal gaming.
It also urges that the DoJ directly indict illegal offshore operators and require “skill-based” machine manufacturers to comply with current registration requirements or face “aggressive enforcement actions.”
Some on Twitter were critical of the AGA’s action, saying the organization doesn’t do enough to help consumers or break down monopolies in legal betting.