The largest casino industry group in the US announced that it no longer supports internet gaming, because of the significant disagreement between key casinos.
This important gambling news was reported by the Wall Street Journal, where Geoff Freeman, the American Gaming Association’s CEO, said that it is withdrawing the support.
AGA withdraws its support for online gambling
• Geoff Freeman, AGA’s CEO, announced the information
• The official reason is the disagreement between major casinos
• Poker Players Alliance said that this decision would not have serious negative effect on the legalization of online gambling
He explained for the WSJ that internet gambling was “an issue that the association cannot lead on” and said that the prime reason was the disagreement between major players on the market.
Freeman continued: “One of the things I’ve learned in this industry is we are extraordinarily competent at shooting at one another. The snipers in this industry are of the highest quality, and if you let that be the focus, we’ll kill each other.”
John Pappas, the executive director of Poker Players Alliance, commented that this decision was not surprising, having in mind that AGA reduced its dynamic lobbying activities on Capitol Hill in the last couple of months.
He added for PokerNews: “I think they’ve really scaled back on activity for some time now, it’s just now becoming public that they scaled back on activity. There’s been some other stories that the AGA is taking a neutral position now because of the split, mostly with Sands. Obviously, when reported in the Wall Street Journal it becomes a bigger story.”
The issue of US internet casinos became controversial for AGA when its members supported opposite positions regarding the development of online gambling. Las Vegas Sands was against and created “Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling”, whereas Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International supported “Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection.”
Pappas expressed his positivity for the future of internet gambling, as it is already in full operation in three states and many more are willing to join the club, therefore AGA’s decision to stop its lobbying efforts shouldn’t have serious impact.
He added: “What we’ll have is other organizations coming in to fill the void that can be laser focused on internet gaming, like the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection. Obviously, the PPA will always be there, and I think individual casino companies will continue playing a major role in lobbying and funding efforts to see legalized internet poker.”
Also, AGA members who support online industry seem to be ok with the neutral position of the group. This was clear even before the latest official statement, when in the beginning of the year James Murren, MGM CEO and Chair of AGA board of directors, commented for Las Vegas Review-Journal that he wished the group would slow down its advocacy efforts for legalizing online poker.
Murren added that the opposing coalitions should be fighting for their point of view on the issue, on their own, and should leave the AGA to deal with other matters.
The AGA had its neutral position regarding internet gaming in the US up until 2010, when it decided to support legalization of online poker.
Freeman was expressing his support ever since he became head of AGA in 2013, up until the recent news about withdrawing the support.
He also testified at a congressional hearing in the end of 2013 saying: “Rather than pursuing more futile attempts at prohibition, the American Gaming Association supports strong regulation and oversight of online gaming that respects states’ rights to pursue what is in the best interest of their residents.”
Freeman added: “Make no mistake: online gaming is here to stay. The government cannot put the internet back in the bottle. As we saw with Blockbuster and the advent of online movies, industries must adapt to consumers or be left in their wake.”
Regardless of the latest events, AGA’s arguments in support of regulation, rather than prohibition are in public record and available for everyone to check them.
Pappas commented: “Even if they’re taking a low profile on this issue again, I don’t think they can back away from the comments they’ve already made in support of regulation. We will always be able to point to those comments as a clear position of the AGA, whether or not they’re out there actively supporting the matter now.”
With the current absence of any federal regulations regarding online gambling, all states can decide for themselves if they want to allow internet gaming on their territories and currently there are around 10 states, which are considering the option to allow these services.