American Gaming Association Turns Back On Internet Gambling

American Gaming Association Turns Back On Internet GamblingSince 2010 the American Gaming Association (AGA) has been largely supportive of online gambling regulation, but recently the Washington D.C. based organization surprised the gambling industry by declaring iGaming was no longer an issue it was prepared to spearhead.
The U-turn was particularly disappointing after AGA chief executive Geoff Freeman stated to Congress last year that online gambling was “here to stay” and that industries must adapt “or be left in their wake.” Back then, AGA members such as Caesars Entertainment, Boyd Gaming, MGM Resorts, and Wynn Resorts seemed to fully accept igaming’s potential to further the commercial gambling industry, but since then Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson’s crusade against online gambling has gathered pace, and threatened to undermine the cohesiveness of the lobbying group.
As a result, the AGA seems to have turned its back on online gambling in the name of self preservation, as highlighted by MGM Resorts Chairman Jim Murren’s comments to the Las Vegas Review-Journal in March, explaining:
“I don’t want the AGA to find itself mired in a tremendous amount of controversy and infighting. I feel like the Internet has become too divisive a topic when there are so many other topics we want to put forward where we can all agree.”
The AGA’s revised stance on iGaming was further emphasized this week after chief executive Geoff Freeman left no doubt in anyone’s mind by explaining to The Wall Street Journal:
“One of the things I’ve learned in this industry is we are extraordinarily competent at shooting at one another. The snipers in this industry are of the highest quality, and if you let that be the focus, we’ll kill each other.”
Following the announcement, Poker Players Alliance executive director John Pappas expressed his disappointment, but not his surprise, noting that over the past few months the AGA’s iGaming lobbying activities had become increasingly sparse. Pappas also vowed to keep supporting the right of Americans to gamble online, and said that the arguments the AGA previously used to justify iGaming would return to haunt them as they switch over to the other side.
Nevertheless, the AGA’s about turn can still be seen as a victory for the lobbying efforts of Sheldon Adelson, and as online gambling expert Marco Valerio commented via his twitter account:
“AGA’s iGaming retreat does little to impair state-by-state progress, but it’s also the LOSS of a powerful proponent of the overall cause. Adelson is seldom given respect by iGaming crowd, “oh he can’t do anything lol.” Yeah, well, looks to me like he clearly won this one.”

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