A.G.A. CHIEF SPELLS OUT OPPOSITION TO ADELSON ANTI-ONLINE GAMBLING DRIVE
17th January, 2014 at 01:19:51
We value Las Vegas Sands as a member, but oppose its owner's campaign against online gambling, says Freeman.
Geoff Freeman, chief executive officer of the American Gaming Association, is proving to be a pragmatic and forthright protagonist of regulated and licensed online gambling in US states, directly opining in his latest speech that the attempt by Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson to derail the trend toward intrastate legalisation is not the right way to go.
Reporting on the mid-January winter meeting of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States, a body which is neutral on internet gambling but strong on the rights of states to make their own gambling decisions, respected blogger Marco Valerio writes on the Online Poker Report website that Freeman was the keynote speaker at the conference and addressed the issue of online gambling.
His assessment attracted a large audience of delegates from most US states with an interest in gambling, both land and online, who listened intently as Freeman outlined his association's future strategies, which include a stronger supportive position on the legalisation of online gambling, a genuine desire to consider input from interested parties, and respect for the authority of individual states on the issue.
And he hinted that the Association would not hesitate to expose "falsehoods" being disseminated by the industry's opponents.
That's not to say that Freeman has abandoned the idea of a federal solution, or of the potential value of the development of a nation-wide set of standards and parameters that would contribute to practical consistency in online gaming regulatory initiatives.
He still believes these could make positive contributions to a now de facto online gambling legalisation trend. But he stressed that states' rights and autonomy on gambling decisions must be respected.
Along with support for online gambling legalisation, the AGA remains implacably opposed to the presence of unlicensed and illegal online gambling operators in the American market.
Freeman condemned their activities in his address, denouncing their desire to "make a buck off the industry" without playing by the rules applicable to everyone else.
He said that the Association intended to be far more active in "squashing those bugs" as it campaigned for regulation and the protection of the US consumer.
The campaign against legalised online gambling recently launched by Las Vegas Sands owner and land gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson inevitably surfaced, and Freeman was candid in his assessment, saying that the Association does not support the Adelson position on online gambling.
The AGA strongly opposes [Adelson's] position. We appreciate Las Vegas Sands' support of our organization and their membership, but we strongly oppose their approach [to Internet gaming]," he said, adding that it was now too late to "force the Internet back into the bottle".
"We no longer have to debate about do we want online gaming or do we not want online gaming," Freeman said. "Online gaming is here.
"The question is, are we going to regulate online gaming, in a way to protect minors, prevent criminal activity, reap tax revenue and other benefits, or are we going to allow the black market to continue to thrive?
Answering a subsequent question, Freeman reinforced the AGA's opposition to Adelson by commenting:
For the foreseeable future, the AGA's efforts with regard to online gaming are going to be focused on preventing prohibition.
"What's done at the state level, in terms of compacts or whether states have poker-only or all games online, I'll leave that to other interested parties.
"Our organization's focus is on making sure that states have the ability to move forward. When it comes to compacts or poker-only, none of that will matter anymore if the other side is successful in getting prohibition through Congress.
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