To better understand and combat the problem of illegal sports betting, the American Gaming Association, a national trade group representing the U.S. casino industry, held its first Law Enforcement Summit June 16. More than 30 law-enforcement leaders nationwide attended the summit, according to an AGA news release.
The summit included a demonstration of how technology can be used to monitor integrity of sports games, according to the release. Karl Bennison, chief of the Enforcement Division at the Nevada Gaming Control Board, and other gaming industry leaders also discussed how legalized, regulated sports betting in Nevada has been successful.
Based on summit discussions, the AGA’s Illegal Gambling Advisory Board is creating a report that will serve as a guide for policymakers, regulators and sports leagues to develop solutions, according to the release. One of those solutions cited by law enforcement is regulation.
“The reality is that illegal sports betting is a growing and dangerous problem; the scope is massive — hundreds of billions of dollars — and shows up on every street corner,” Ed Davis, former police commissioner of the City of Boston and a member of AGA’s Illegal Gambling Advisory Board, said in a news release.
“We need to look at the utility of a regulated, transparent sports betting market,” he added. “Consumers would rather do this in a regulated market that provides consumer protections, integrity of the game, and I would rather have certainty and transparency. It’s easier to maintain public safety in that type of environment.”
The summit highlighted that the “illegal sports betting market funds large criminal enterprises and fails to protect the integrity of the sports we all love,” Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA, said in the release. “It’s time for a modernized approach that will support law enforcement around the country.”
The summit was part of AGA’s “Stop Illegal Gambling–Play it Safe” initiative, which it created in April 2015. The initiative unites gaming and law enforcement to expose the growing illegal gambling market that preys on consumers, siphons tax revenues and funds violent crime, according to an earlier AGA news release.
As part of the initiative, an Illegal Gambling Advisory Board was formed, made up of law-enforcement and gaming industry officials. The FBI and casino gaming industry are touting the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, www.ic3.gov, an online tool for the public to report tips and complaints pertaining to online crimes.
“Establishing and maintaining strong partnerships with public and private industry counterparts is essential in combating illegal gambling,” J. Chris Warrener, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s criminal investigative division, said in an earlier news release.
A report released by AGA last year and conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University professor Jay S. Albanese, PhD, details strong ties between illegal gambling operations and organized crime organizations in the U.S. In 2014, 80 operators in 23 states were convicted at the federal level of running illegal gambling businesses, according to the report.
The AGA’s illegal gambling initiative focuses on illegal sports betting; black market machines; internet sweepstakes cafes; and illegal online betting. The initiative seeks to distinguish the highly regulated, $240 billion legal gaming industry, which supports 1.7 million jobs in 40 states, from the criminal networks that rely on illegal gambling to fund violent crimes and drug and human trafficking, according to the AGA.
More information can be found at StopIllegalGambling.org.