Land-Based Casino Industry Head Begs "The Hill" for 2014 USA Online Gambling Passage

The 11th richest man in the USA, CEO of the Las Vegas Sands LVS casino and resort company, is one brick-and-mortar casino owner who is dead set against online gambling and USA Internet casinos being legalized in the United States. Famously declaring that he is, "willing to spend whatever it takes," to stop legalized Internet gambling across the US, he is obviously not the only land-based casino owner that feels that way. The American Gaming Association (AGA) was established in 1995 to represent the commercial casino and resort entertainment industry, and the head of the organization evidently believes Internet gambling would be good for the physical casinos across the United States

Geoff Freeman, as president and CEO of the AGA, is openly calling for Washington legislators to ensure that 2014 is the year of federally legalized online gambling across the US. Calling the prohibition of online gambling in the United States "simply not a viable option in the long run," Freeman's op-ed piece was posted in The Hill, a News Communications Incorporated Washington, DC newspaper written for and about the U.S. Congress. The paper has a decided Democratic and liberal slant, often outspoken against Internet gambling, and focuses on lobbying efforts by individuals and businesses. The newspaper claims the largest circulation of any of the many Capitol Hill publications, and also has a sister website and 11 blogs which specifically cover individual policy and political news themes.

As the head of the US land-based casino industry group, Freeman pointed out in the directive to Congress that online gambling in the US already currently affects and impacts millions of nationwide residents, consumers and businesses. He also says that the issue needs to be "addressed urgently" and continually calls for the passage of legal online gambling regulated at the federal level. It may seem odd that a brick-and-mortar casino proponent would be such a staunch supporter of virtual casinos, but the land-based casinos already in business in New Jersey and Nevada have successfully been used as the bases of operations for those two states' Internet gambling presence. At the end of 2013, Freeman represented the AGA before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and very strongly stated that "the attempted prohibition of online gambling simply does not, and will not, work."

AGA research shows that before Nevada legalized online gambling, as the first state to do so since the 2011 gambling-favorable flip-flop of the US Department of Justice regarding the Federal Wire Act of 1961, Americans spent an estimated $3 billion annually on "illegal, unregulated offshore gaming sites." Compared to the failed prohibition of alcohol in 1920 which was eventually repealed in 1933 due to massive nationwide support of underground "speak-easies" and other illegal breweries, Freeman said that it is his organization's belief that the prohibition, and lack of federal support, of Internet gambling in the United States has created a thriving black market that puts American citizens at risk.

There are currently legitimate online casinos, USA poker rooms and USA online sportsbooks which obtain legal Internet gambling licensing in jurisdictions located outside the United States. But there is nothing to prevent the presence currently of predatory and rogue Internet web portals from catering to unsuspecting American gamblers. Aside from much-needed tax revenue at the state and federal levels, the AGA op-ed piece in The Hill also points to a loss of jobs and industry innovation that could be immediately addressed with nationwide passage of an Internet gambling package. Seeking uniform protection for US consumers' rights, Freeman continually returned to the theme that a singular piece of federal Internet gambling law would regulate the industry and safeguard US residents, and stated that "online gambling is here to stay." As a comparison, the head of the AGA stated, "ask Blockbuster (failed land-based movie rental firm) if streaming movies online was merely a fad."

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