Group Pushes for Online Betting Regulation

The American Gaming Association said Americans illegally bet $2.6 billion last year.

The American Gaming Association Sept. 24 said research that shows U.S. residents bet $2.6 billion through illegal offshore gambling operations in 2012 drives home its point that online betting must be regulated by the federal government.

The AGA is launching what it calls an educational campaign that uses the new film Runner Runner, which is about the seedy and illegal side of online poker.

The AGA cited statistics from H2 Gambling Capital that show 10% of the $33 billion worldwide online gambling market is generated by U.S. residents.

The AGA reiterated its stance that federal legislation should set minimum standards for consumer protection, age verification, responsible gaming, and programs to assist those with gambling disorders; create a regulatory framework for Native American casino operators; and provide tools for law enforcement to prosecute illegal operators.

Bricks-and-mortar casino gambling is highly regulated.

The only legal form of online wagering via federal law is advance deposit wagering on horse races.A few states recently approved Internet poker and online casino games operated by in-state casinos.

"The alternative to the approach AGA recommends is a state-by-state patchwork of regulations across a borderless Internet where the black market will continue to thrive in states that choose not to pass legislation," said Geoff Freeman, president and chief executive officer of the AGA.

The AGA said it will "leverage" Runner Runner to "educate policymakers and engage the general public" on the topic of illegal Internet gambling. The campaign will include advertisements on websites and social media outreach.