AGA survey highlights American antagonism towards illegal machines

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Around two-thirds of US adults recognize illegal and unregulated gaming machines as games of chance, rather than the games of skill the operators package them as. 

Data from the American Gaming Association (AGA) shows that 65% of people who are familiar with such gaming machines recognize them as games of chance and note that they have little difference from slot machines. 

The AGA estimates that there are over 580k of these illegal machines across the US and they make up over 40% of all gaming machines in the country. The body conducted a survey with around 2,000 US adults in order to decode attitudes toward illegal gambling in the country. 

It was made ahead of a hearing in Pennsylvania at the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee meeting on the presence of unregulated machines in the state. 

Of those surveyed online, 71% said that skill machines lack adequate player protection mechanisms and 64% said that they agree these machines are too easily accessible for children. 

It is estimated that $109bn is spent on these machines per year and the AGA noted that this costs states $8.7bn in state taxes and $27bn in legal gaming revenue. 

“Unregulated machine manufacturers have built their businesses by duping consumers and small businesses while avoiding taxes, oversight and consumer protections,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “These results are further evidence that Americans see these machines as a threat that should be eliminated, not regulated.”

The survey was conducted as part of the AGA’s support for the Stop Illegal Gambling campaign, which it urged lawmakers, regulators and consumers alike to support. 

The industry body explained that the RTP rate of the unregulated machines is much lower than regulated gaming machines as players on average keep 7.7 cents per dollar compared to 25 cents per dollar in the unregulated market. 

Further findings revealed that 56% of those surveyed agreed that unregulated machines increase the risk of crime and danger for employees at bars, malls, and other locations where they are found. 

Consequently, 64% of participants are “concerned” about the presence of such machines within their local communities. 

Miller added: “Keeping America’s gaming industry strong, safe and responsible can only be done through the robust infrastructure of the well-established legal market, not by rewarding bad actors with half-measures that fail to address the dangers of unregulated gambling.”