One week before the Super Bowl and at the International Casino Conference in London, the American Gaming Association (AGA) and the European Casino Association (ECA), announced a new partnership to tackle illegal gambling.
“The problem of illegal gambling services is of a global dimension, both from the perspective of these services being furnished through terrestrial and through online channels,” said Per Jaldung, ECA chair. “Often these services are provided on a transnational basis which as such requires a global approach to guarantee the safety of the consumers, prevent underage gambling, and keep gambling crime free, especially as illegal gambling services are often related to other forms of crime.”
“Illegal gambling is rampant and without borders,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA. “Its operators elude regulation, pay no taxes and threaten consumer safety. Through this partnership, we’ll leverage our relationships with law enforcement and the legal, highly regulated gaming industry to expose shady illegal gambling operations.”
Interpol’s Operation SOGA V targeted illegal soccer gambling activities surrounding the 2014 World Cup demonstrating the massive profits for organized crime and its connections to money laundering, human trafficking and corruption.
Similarly, as part of AGA’s “Stop Illegal Gambling – Play it Safe” initiative, Dr. Jay Albanese, a criminologist from Virginia Commonwealth University, demonstrated the strong ties of illegal gambling to large criminal enterprises. Of the 80 federal convictions analyzed in that research, all were the result of joint investigations by state, local and federal law enforcement agencies.
This international alliance is the first step in potentially formulating an agreement between AGA and ECA to address and develop specific tools to combat this problem. The alliance will be grounded on these principles:
· Enhanced information sharing;
· Reducing the demand and supply for illegal gambling;
· Cooperation and continued training and capacity building for law enforcement; and
· Sustained commitment to call on policymakers to take action.
Earlier this year, the AGA launched its “Stop Illegal Gambling – Play it Safe” initiative, by which it 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. It’s formed an elite advisory board, and partnered with various stakeholders in law enforcement and the private sector.
This alliance is another staple in the commitment to distinguish between the legal, regulated industry and illegal bad actors. Freeman and Jaldung seek the elimination of grey markets and a more transparent law abiding ecosystem where operators, policymakers and law enforcement work together to curtail those that don’t play by the rules.