The American Gaming Association (AGA) and the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM) announced a new partnership to highlight and combat the rapid spread of illegal gaming machine activity in Texas. With an estimated 100,000-150,000 “8-liner” and illegal slot machines now present in Texas, the state has become the most glaring current example of widespread illegal gaming activity in the United States.

“Over the last several months, AGA has been shining a spotlight on the vast, dangerous illegal gambling operations running rampant across the country, and few places exemplify the thriving nature of illegal gambling better than Texas, where hundreds of thousands of black market machines are currently in operation,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association. “By partnering with AGEM and building off of the already strong support of law enforcement officials at every level, we will make real progress in shutting down illegal operators.”

AGEM represents the most respected licensed and regulated gaming suppliers in the world, and we no longer can remain silent about the current environment of widespread illegal gambling in Texas,” said Thomas Jingoli, AGEM President and Chief Compliance Officer for Konami Gaming. “On behalf of our 140-plus member companies who supply gaming equipment and technology to regulated markets around the world, we are asking for law enforcement in Texas, from the highest levels in Austin to the smallest communities, to enforce the state’s existing laws that forbid the kind of uncontrolled activity that continues to spread.”

Among those issuing statements in support of the AGA-AGEM effort are State Representative Allen Fletcher, R-Tomball; State Senator Lois W. Kolkhorst, R-Brenham; and State Representative John Kuempel, R-Seguin.

“I thank the American Gaming Association and Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers for their initiative to assist law enforcement in cleaning up this state and stop the use of illegal eight-liners in Texas,” said Rep. Fletcher.

“Until the state no longer tolerates illegal game rooms and the slot machines disguised as eight-liners in those rooms, these game rooms will continue to be a public nuisance,” said Sen. Kolkhorst.

“I remain very concerned about the continuing spread of 8-liner machines throughout Texas and the lack of law enforcement oversight that would ensure cash transactions are not taking place,” said Rep. Kuempel. “Simply put, the current game room environment in our state is unacceptable and must be addressed to stop the criminal activity that is currently taking place.”

In a letter to elected officials and law enforcement in Texas, AGA and AGEM are inviting them to join this initiative and to take action. Among the recipients are: Texas’ congressional delegation; Governor Greg Abbott; Attorney General Ken Paxton; and state legislative leaders. Read the letter here.

Since launching “Stop Illegal Gambling - Play it Safe” last month, the AGA has worked hand in hand with law enforcement, attorneys general and other agencies to expose illegal gambling. While “8-liner” machines are not technically illegal in Texas, payouts by law must be limited to $5 in non-cash prizes. Game rooms in most cases are clearly not following the law, creating a statewide environment of illegal gambling activity that has spread rapidly over the past few years.

According to a recent New York Times article and local media reports, illegal gambling activity is taking place in various locations such as windowless former tire shops and tractor-trailers parked along busy roadways. In some cases, illegal slot machines brought in from other states are mixed with the “8-liners” in an attempt to expand the illegal gambling activity. The current “8-liner” landscape is a breeding ground of criminal activity, including robberies, assault, money laundering, tax evasion and organized crime.