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Op Ed Article On Runner Runner
Friday September 20 ,2013 : REPUTATION ROULETTE FROM THE AMERICAN GAMING ASSOCIATION
New CEO plays a dangerous game in tarring the industry with a wide brush
It hasn't taken long for Geoff Freeman, the new chief exec at the American Gaming Association, to raise a few industry hackles with his latest op-ed article referencing the just-released online poker movie Runner, Runner starring Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake
Last month, clearly concerned at the growing momentum of state-by-state legalisation and regulation, Freeman said that he planned to leverage the movie to influence public and political opinions on online poker toward the AGA-favoured federal legalisation solution (which over the years never seems to materialise).
Good to his word, this week Freeman burst into print in an op-ed piece in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, noting the movie's depiction of a lawless online poker sector populated with some pretty questionable characters, which he rather provocatively commented was 'sadly, not far from reality'.
Compounding the insult, Freeman went on to claim that the U.S. government is 'doing everything in its power to crack down on illegal operators - just like those portrayed in “Runner Runner.'
Such a wide assertion is hardly likely to make him popular with the many highly professional and ethical people and companies working in the online industry today, and this sort of generalised implication coming from a senior and hopefully diplomatic executive of a major trade association is surprising.
It could backfire given the sensitive nature of the rapidly evolving US online poker business and the considerable effort and resources that states like New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada, along with major and reputable companies, have dedicated to its rigorous regulation.
Freeman did make one realistic assessment in his article - he acknowledged that online gambling is here to stay.
The AGA chief will be speaking at G2E in Las Vegas next week, and will probably again push the AGA line that if Congress fails to act in delivering a federal solution, individual states will [continue to] move forward.
The Association believes that while this approach will yield more protections than currently exist, the industry will be left with a state-by-state 'patchwork of regulations' across the 'borderless Internet.' And the black market will continue to thrive in states that choose not to pass legislation, putting US gaming patrons, problem gamblers and minors at unnecessary risk.
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