1on1 - AGA's Geoff Freeman on changing gambling laws

1on1 - AGA's Geoff Freeman on changing gambling laws

Monday, December 5, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
AGA wants to see change in how sports betting is treated

No sooner had Donald Trump been elected President in the US, the American Gaming Association (AGA) moved to push the case for the legalising sports betting and filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court to push the debate forward.

Totally Gaming caught up with CEO Geoff Freeman, recently named one of the top lobbyists, to ask about the AGA’s campaign.

Totally Gaming: You claim Trump has acknowledged the size of illegal betting - when was this?

Geoff Freeman: Last year, Donald Trump said he was “okay with it because it’s happening anyways… whether you have it or you don’t have it, you have it… it’s all over the place.” Trump’s comments have been echoed by others including former NBA Commissioner David Stern, who said in September he was in favor of a legal sports betting market. The public sentiment toward sports betting is rapidly evolving and the American Gaming Association will continue to advocate for a legal sports betting market.

TG: Where is this illegal betting taking place? Is it via telephones? Online? Who are the beneficiaries?

GF: The illegal, underground sports betting market that is estimated to be between $150-$500 billion is taking place through a number of channels. Illegal wagers are made online, over the phone and overseas. The thriving illegal sports betting market siphons tax revenues and funds violent crimes.

TG: Why is the AGA - a casino trade association - getting involved in lobbying for sports betting?

GF: The AGA is a member-based organization that advocates on behalf of the casino gaming industry. For decades, the casino gaming industry has watched as illegal sports betting has proliferated. Our members are aligned that regulated sports betting is an opportunity to strengthen the integrity of games, attract new customers to our businesses and create important revenue opportunities for communities, leagues, broadcasters and many others.

TG:Is a Federal Government controlled by the Republican Party likely to deregulate gambling?

GF: The Republican Party traditionally supports the right of states to govern themselves. The failed 1992 federal law banning sports betting outside of Nevada is an encroachment on states’ rights and it is past time for Congress to revisit our nation’s approach to sports betting.

TG: Isn't the best way of enacting change to get the sports themselves onside?

GF: AGA’s push for a legal, regulated sports betting market starts with building a broad coalition of key stakeholders in support of the issue. The National Basketball Association (NBA) has been outspoken in its support for a legal marketplace to wager on sports. The National Hockey League’s (NHL) decision to add a team in Las Vegas is another proof point that gambling is becoming more mainstream. We are proud of the inroads we have made with each of the major sports leagues and hopeful that all stakeholders will be aligned in advance of approaching Congress. 

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