AGA Can Regulate Internet Gambling

The Washington, D.C.-based gaming industry lobby has redirected its view of legalized internet gambling, and now believes technology exists to regulate it at the state or federal level.

In a new policy statement, the American Game Association said it was open to the concept of legalized internet gaming as long as regulatory structures were in place to protect consumers and the integrity of the game.

But the group, which represents most of the nation’s casino operators and slot machine manufacturers, is not taking any of the current positions in Congress on legislation that could legalize all or some forms of internet gaming, estimated at $26 billion a year.

“If something starts, essentially this gets us at the table,” said Frank Fahrenkoff Jr., chief executive of the American Game Association, on Wednesday. “The majority of our board has a favorable position on internet gaming, as long as there are strong regulations. But also, we’re not currently endorsing any of those bills.”

This policy has changed from a neutral stance on internet games since 2008. Before taking this view, the National Game Association supported an independent study of congressionally funded internet games by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences.

Internet games have been hotly debated in Washington D.C. for much of the past decade. The Illegal Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 made it a crime for banks and other financial institutions to process transactions used in online games.

Still, the National Game Association estimated that American residents paid $5.9 billion in 2008 with overseas online gambling companies, while $21 billion was bet by players around the world.

“This is a topic that our board has discussed many times,” Parenkov said. “The board was divided into three ways: people who are against it, people who are against it, people who are not sure. It has made us quite neutral, but this position allows the organization to be a player in what is ultimately decided.”

Harrah’s Entertainment, which owns the World Series of Poker, supports legalizing internet gaming and supports Democratic Rep. Barney Frank’s bill that would create a framework for online gambling operators to receive bets from U.S. residents. 스포츠토토

MGM Mirage briefly attempted to run an internet gambling site in 2001, but abandoned the idea after 21 months. The casino was licensed on the Isle of Man and did not accept American bets.

Fahrenkopf said the National Game Association has studied this issue over the past few years. Member committees looked into three issues: whether the technology could regulate the activity and protection of money laundering and underage gambling, whether internet gaming would encroach on the commercial casino industry, and whether federal or state regulation was a better process.

Fahrenkov said the committee, which reported to the association’s board, decided that the currently available system would be properly regulated for internet gambling with proper law enforcement oversight and provide adequate consumer protection for individuals who gamble online.

With nearly $6 billion being gambled online by Americans despite the 2006 law, the association believes any cannibalism has already been realized.

“It could even be a new revenue center for some of our members,” Fahrenkopf said. “The dynamics of big companies are definitely changing.”

The association was split in favor of federal or state regulations.

Fahrenkoff said a hearing on the Frank bill could take place in the spring. A bill introduced in 2009 by Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat, would allow federal regulation of online poker.

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