The American Gaming Association held a conference on Thursday in which the organization discussed its support of a legal and regulated framework for sports betting in the US. The AGA confirmed that it intends to lobby members of Congress to that end in 2017.
The gaming advocacy group isn’t merely looking to expand gambling throughout the nation. Their intentions are to curb the exponential rise of illegal sports gambling that’s been taking place for years now, and it’s not just the AGA that supports the cause.
Several major groups are on board with the plan. Adam Silver, Commissioner of the NBA, along with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, have verbalized their call for a regulated sports betting market in the US. For years, professional and amateur leagues have been averse to legalization of sports betting, but now there’s a waxing shift in perspectives as they become more concerned with the wide-spread criminal activity that could adversely effect the integrity of the game.
By legalizing and regulating sports betting in the US, the federal government would be able to enforce consumer protections and other security measures. This would encourage the vast majority of sports betting enthusiasts, who are currently taking advantage of illegal means of wagering, to place their bets with safe, licensed, regulated sportsbooks.
The AGA’s official Advocacy of Sports Betting in America defines its purpose in three simple statements:
“Embrace the passion. Modernize the rules. Protect the game.”
Illegal Sports Ring Busted, Timing Impeccable
On the morning of June 30—the same morning the AGA held its conference—District Attorney Ken Thompson of Brooklyn, New York unsealed 57 indictments against four individuals said to be running an enormous illegal sports gambling ring; “possibly the biggest one ever to be dismantled by a local prosecutor’s office,” said Thompson.
Prosecutors allege that the individuals, three from California and the fourth from New York, moved millions of dollars all over the world during their operation, using multiple techniques to launder the money. Court documents accuse the illegal sports gambling operations of accepting $927 million in bets in 2015 alone.
Like many other illegal gambling operations in the US, the ring is accused of conducting the bulk of its business through offshore websites, including wagerabc.com and hustler247.org, utilizing a wire room in Costa Rica to transfer customers deposits and withdrawals.
This is just the latest in a series of busts conducted in recent months. Nearly a dozen illegal sports betting rings were taken down in the first half of 2016, following two other dismantlings in late 2015. The activity is taking place across numerous US states, with California, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island topping the list.
AGA Calculations of Illegal Sports Gambling
According to the AGA, an estimated $145 billion was illegally wagered on sports in the US last year. Other analytics have put that figure anywhere between $80 billion and $380 billion. While the actual amount is impossible to pinpoint, we do know that Nevada’s legal and regulated sports betting market drew in a comparably miniscule $4.2 billion during the same time frame.