A new report out by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Dr. Jay S. Albanese details the strong ties between illegal gambling operations and organized crime organizations in the U.S. The prevalence of illegal gambling has been so significant that, in 2014 alone, 80 operators in 23 states were convicted of running illegal gambling businesses. The report also underscores the critical importance of joint investigations between local, state and federal agencies.

At a roundtable discussion held during the Global Gaming Expo (G2E), the American Gaming Association (AGA) released groundbreaking new research exposing how illegal gambling is used to fund large criminal enterprises involved in racketeering, money laundering, extortion and fraud.

“The ties between illegal gambling and organized crime are undeniable. This is not a victimless crime. Illegal gambling siphons critical tax revenue from communities and is void of any of the consumer protections provided by regulated gaming,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA. “We are proud to be taking a proactive lead on an issue that preys on consumers, funds illegal activities and hurts the highly regulated legal gaming industry.”

The research also notes that many illegal gambling enterprises are large-scale, involving an average of 8 to 33 participants.

AGA, through its “Stop Illegal Gambling – Play it Safe” initiative, is working with law enforcement and the private sector to distinguish the highly regulated, $240 billion legal gaming industry from illegal gambling and criminal enterprises that fund horrific crimes. The roundtable included:


1.       Mark Brnovich, attorney general of Arizona and NAAG chairman;

2.       Tim Murphy, for deputy director of the FBI;

3.       Ed Davis, former Boston police commissioner;

4.       Keith Kaneshiro, prosecuting attorney for Honolulu;

5.       Dr. Jay S. Albanese, Virginia Commonwealth University; 

6.       James Dinkins, former executive associate director at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations;

7.       J.B. Van Hollen, former Wisconsin State attorney general, U.S. attorney, and district attorney;

8.       Bill Young, former Clark County sheriff and head of Las Vegas Metro Police Department; and 

9.       Geoff Freeman, president and CEO, American Gaming Association (AGA)


 Earlier this year, the AGA assembled an Illegal Gambling Advisory Board, to provide advice regarding industry efforts to develop actionable tools for law enforcement and to reduce the demand through public awareness; guide partnerships with law enforcement at the local, state, federal and international level; and provide strategies and perspective on necessary steps to plug existing holes in enforcement efforts.