New York Times Exposé Highlights Stark Difference Between Legal, Regulated Casinos & Shady Illegal Gambling Operations

Press Release | October 15th, 2015

Washington, DC – A major investigative story in today’s New York Times exposes the clear difference between the highly regulated, legal casino gaming industry and shady illegal gambling operators that rip off consumers, fund organized crime and harm the communities in which they do business. From drop-offs of bags of cash to deceitful credit card practices, the piece paints a picture of an industry that is anything but a victimless crime. It also highlights the growing, yet illegal, sports betting market at a time when acceptance of legal gaming is at an all-time high.

“Today’s New York Times investigative story shines a light on the thriving, multi-billion dollar illegal gambling sector, which stands in stark contrast to the legal, regulated casino gaming industry that serves as a valued community partner in 40 states,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association. “As the New York Times makes abundantly clear, current law on sports betting is undeniably failing outside the states in which it is regulated. Current federal law is unintentionally contributing to a massive, unregulated black market 100 times the size of the legal, regulated market.”

report released last month by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Dr. Jay S. Albanese details the strong ties between illegal gambling operations and organized crime organizations in the U.S. The prevalence of illegal gambling has been so significant that, in 2014 alone, 80 operators in 23 states were convicted of running illegal gambling businesses.

Sports fans will wager $95 billion on NFL and college football games this season, according to an AGA estimate released last month. The vast majority – $93 billion – of wagers will be placed illegally. Just under $2 billion will be wagered at sports books in Nevada. On last season’s Super Bowl alone, Americans made $3.8 billion worth of illicit bets – an amount 38 times greater than the total bet legally.

In a keynote speech before attorneys general from across the country in April in Biloxi, Mississippi, Freeman launched the “Stop Illegal Gambling – Play it Safe” initiative. The initiative seeks to distinguish the highly regulated, $240 billion legal gaming industry—which supports 1.7 million jobs and generates $38 billion in taxes across 40 states—from the criminal networks that rely on illegal gambling to fund violent crimes and drug and human trafficking.

Earlier this year, the AGA assembled an Illegal Gambling Advisory Board to provide advice regarding industry efforts to develop actionable tools for law enforcement and to reduce the demand through public awareness; guide partnerships with law enforcement at the local, state, federal and international level; and provide strategies and perspective on necessary steps to plug existing holes in enforcement efforts.

About AGA: The American Gaming Association is the premier national trade group representing the $240 billion U.S. casino industry, which supports 1.7 million jobs in 40 states. AGA members include commercial and tribal casino operators, suppliers and other entities affiliated with the gaming industry. It is the mission of the AGA to be the single most effective champion of the industry, relentlessly protecting against harmful and often misinformed public policies, and paving a path for growth, innovation and reinvestment.

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