The American Gaming Association (AGA) has praised the Congressional letter sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to make a concerted effort to fight illegal, offshore gambling websites.
Issued to the DOJ and signed by 28 members of Congress, including Congressional Gaming Caucus Co-Chairs Dina Titus and Guy Reschenthaler, the letter identifies illegal gambling operators as “predatory operations” that “expose our constituents to financial and cyber vulnerabilities”.
The communication adds they “do not have protocols to address money laundering, sports integrity, or age restrictions; and undermine states’ efforts to capture much needed tax revenue through legal sports betting channels”.
Highlighting the customer confusion these “dangerous operators” can cause since they’re not “relegated to the dark web, but instead are easily accessed through any computer or smartphone,” the members of congress state warned, “we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that the illegal market is thriving and operating unfettered”.
The letter calls Bovada, MyBookie, and BetOnline “sophisticated platforms that are nearly indistinguishable from those of legal providers,” adding that in 2021, internet searches nationwide for offshore sportsbooks increased by almost 40%.
“Moreover, the protections Americans have learned to expect from legal regulated sportsbooks, like responsible gaming functions, secured personal and financial information, and identity verification, are non-existent,” the letter stated.
“The illegal operators are not interested in helping bettors wager responsibly by providing checks like time limits, budgets, or self-exclusion. They do not adhere to federal or state financial regulations, so consumers can never be sure if their information is secure or if they will receive their winnings.
“These operators are not bound by age restrictions, meaning children and young adults can be exploited by these websites.
“Finally, these illegal operators do not help promote the integrity of sporting contests by sharing with sports leagues information related to unusual betting patterns or insider betting, as many regulated sportsbooks do.”
In a statement, AGA President and CEO Bill Miller praised the Congressional letter to the DOJ to tackle the illegal market.
Miller said: “Offshore gambling websites are a significant threat to consumer protections and the economic benefits legal gaming provides for communities across the country. Eradicating these websites, and all forms of illegal gambling, is one of AGA’s top priorities.
“After our initial outreach to the Department of Justice in April, today’s letter to Attorney General Garland demonstrates the broad interest in addressing illegal gaming. We are grateful to Gaming Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Titus and Reschenthaler for their leadership and the Members who joined this call to action.
“Our country’s leaders are clearly and appropriately alarmed by the prevalence of offshore sportsbooks and law enforcement must act to identify the worst actors, investigate and prosecute them.
“We look forward to continuing to work with allies on the Hill, sports leagues and the Department of Justice to prioritize robust enforcement that will protect Americans from the predatory illegal marketplace.”
The letter is also backed by the NFL, as the league’s Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer, Sabrina Perel, added: “We appreciate Congress’s continued engagement and join in urging the Department of Justice to address problems posed by illegal offshore gambling operators, an issue that affects all who care about the integrity of sports.”