092513 CJOS_Zitro_Geoff Freeman_300Americans spent $2.6 billion on illegal offshore gambling websites in 2012—generating nearly 10 percent of the $33 billion worldwide online gambling market—according to research released today by the American Gaming Association (AGA).

The new research, developed by H2 Gambling Capital, reinforces the critical need for policymakers to safeguard Americans from illegal online gambling operators like those depicted in the new film Runner Runner.

Runner Runner is a fictional account of a lawless online poker world ruled by shady and unethical characters that sadly is not far from reality for millions of Americans who simply want to enjoy one of our favorite pastimes in a safe online environment," said Geoff Freeman, the president and CEO of the AGA. “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. It is past time for policymakers to put necessary safeguards in place.”

The AGA has long encouraged federal legislation that does three things: (1) sets minimum standards for consumer protection, age verification, responsible gaming and programs to assist those with gambling disorders; (2) creates a regulatory framework for Native American casino operators and (3) provides tools for law enforcement to prosecute illegal operators.

“The alternative to the approach AGA recommends is a state-by-state patchwork of regulations across a borderless Internet where the black market will continue to thrive in states that choose not to pass legislation,” Freeman said.

AGA will leverage Runner Runner to educate policymakers and engage the general public. Prominent components of AGA’s activities will include:

• Advertisements on AMC’s portfolio of 26 websites, such as IMDB and ABCNews.com, as well as Google, Facebook and Twitter;

• Aggressive social media outreach and education; and

• The launch of a Runner Runner microsite providing further information on the risks associated with the current marketplace and the need for immediate action by policymakers.

Freeman released the new online gambling research and outlined the AGA’s position during a media briefing at Global Gaming Expo 2013 in Las Vegas.