As the American Gaming Association (AGA) continues to push for regulated internet gambling, it has released a study that shows $2.6bn was wagered online in the US last year. Now unfolding state-by-state, the association fears a lack of federal control over the sector would unbalance the nation’s gaming industry.
Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware have each passed an internet gambling bill at state-level, with online poker in Nevada, Delaware selling online lottery services and Atlantic City soon to go live. Several industry experts claim that technology is not yet in place to effectively ensure players are within states boundaries and are of legal age to gamble, stalling regulation in a number of other states.
However, AGA argues that players have been wagering on offshore websites for years, leaving them unprotected and sending tax revenue overseas. Conducted by British research firm H2 Gambling Capital, a new study found $2.6bn was wagered by North American players on offshore website in 2012.
With internet gambling being in legal limbo, it accounts for a significant unregulated market.
“Americans account for nearly 10-percent of the global online gaming marketplace at a time when the business is illegal in all but three American states,” remarked Geoff Freeman, AGA President & CEO. “It is past time for policymakers to put necessary safeguards in place.”
The study came ahead of ‘Runner, Runner’, a film about a US university student cheated out of his tuition money by playing online poker hosted on a remote island and run by a criminal enterprise. “Runner, Runner is a fictional account of a lawless online poker world ruled by shady and unethical characters,” remarked Freeman, “sadly, not far from reality for millions of Americans who simply want to enjoy one of our favourite pastimes in a safe online environment.”
As the US slowly starts to open its doors to regulated online gaming, H2 Gambling Capital expects that global market share will quickly expand. Based largely on when the initial three states go live, the research firm projects that online gaming in the US will be worth €5.5bn by the end of 2017.
Online gaming in the US was down last year from $2.8 billion in 2011, detailed H2 Capital. The report indicated the sector peaked in 2006 at $5bn, just ahead of federal legislation that banned US credit cards transactions involving internet-based wagering. Americans however, have been able to access offshore websites simply by disguising location, as well as financial accounts outside the country.
With its newly appointed President & CEO at the helm, the AGA continues to work with politicians to move legislation forward, and within the industry to combat negative perceptions tied to online gaming. The association wants legislation to unfold at federal level to produce a fair and competitive market.
The AGA represents the commercial casino-entertainment industry by addressing federal legislative and regulatory issues. The association also serves as a clearinghouse for information, develops educational and advocacy programs, and provides leadership on industry-related issues of public concern.