The American Gaming Association, which represents US casino interests in Washington DC and individual statehouses, has escalated its effort to squeeze out legally questionable, unregulated gambling operators.
“We’ve declared war on the illegal market,” AGA President and CEO Bill Miller said last week at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, “from illegal offshore operators to unregulated, unlicensed machines found in convenience stores, bars and strip malls.”
The AGA won a victory Monday when the state Supreme Court in Virginia reinstated a ban on “skill games.” These controversial unregulated machines make up just one of the fronts the AGA has declared its war.
This push is not out of nowhere. Miller has been escalating the rhetoric against gaming entities that don’t fall under the umbrella of the AGA for the past few years.
In November 2022, the AGA released a study that quantified the scale of illegal gambling, and how it cut into casino-industry coffers – $513.5 billion gambled illegally in the US, $13.5 billion in uncollected tax revenue.
In May 2023, at G2E Asia, Miller declared, Illegal, unregulated gambling as “our industry’s greatest threat.” He said the AGA was working with Congress and state attorneys general to make sure law enforcement prioritized going after violators.
At G2E 2023 in Las Vegas, the messaging seemed more positive, with the AGA’s touting new research on how big gambling is economically. ($329 billion economic impact, 1.8 million jobs.)
But this is just the second jab of a 1-2 punch. The AGA wasn’t going to let the industry forget about its battle against the untaxed. Front and center on display in the lobby before you entered the Venetian Expo Hall was an exhibit to remind all who passed of the scourge that illegal gambling presented.
The insinuation was clear – for as big as this industry spectacle is inside, it could be even bigger, if Big Casino could tap an enormous customer block and shut out businesses that weren’t competing on the same playing field.
Images by Dan Michalski / Casinos.com