Wednesday May 21,2014 : AMERICAN GAMING ASSOCIATION BACKS AWAY FROM ONLINE GAMBLING LEGALISATION
Land casino trade association pulls support for online gambling.
The chief executive officer of land gambling industry group the American Gaming Association, Geoff Freeman, told the Wall Street Journal Wednesday that the body is withdrawing official endorsement for online gambling.
Freeman, who has hitherto been a strong supporter for federally legalised online gambling, said that the genre was "…an issue that the Association cannot lead on" because of disagreement among major land casinos.
Companies such as MGM and Caesars have advocated for legalization, but Las Vegas Sands chief executive officer Sheldon Adelson has led a national campaign against it. The difference of opinion has repeatedly spilled into the public domain.
"One of the things I've learned in this industry is that we are extraordinarily competent at shooting at one another," Freeman told the WSJ. "The snipers in this industry are of the highest quality, and if you let that be the focus, we'll kill each other."
Just last year Freeman submitted written testimony to Congress advocating for the legalization of online gambling, writing that the government should "make no mistake: online gaming is here to stay. The government cannot put the Internet back in the bottle."
His testimony claimed that the current "futile attempts at prohibition" have merely driven online gamblers to a "thriving black market" with offshore links.
In an interview in March this year incoming AGA chairman Jim Murren hinted that a retreat may be about to take place when he said that the Association perhaps needed to "dial down" its rhetoric on the contentious subject because the debate was fracturing the membership of the trade organisation… clearly a reference to the vehement but singular opposition to online gambling of Sheldon Adelson.
Earlier this year it was announced that a new group, the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection, with backing from MGM and the AGA, would become involved with the struggle to oppose attempts at a federal online gambling ban.
Bills introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Jason Chaffetz are currently at committee stage in the House and Senate, and seek a blanket ban on internet gambling through a resurrection of the 1961 Wire Act.