The American Gaming Association (AGA), which has historically opposed the legalization of Internet gambling in the United States, released a statement on Tuesday offering its support, however cautious, to U.S. Congressman Barney Frank's Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act.
Just over a month ago, after Frank, D-Mass., announced he was planning to introduce legislation to undo some of the prohibitive effects of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (passed in September 2006), the AGA was measured in its response to the news.
"Our board continues to support the authorization of a federally funded study to evaluate the impacts of online gambling," the AGA told eGaming Review in March. In an interview with the Las Vegas Sun in February, AGA president Frank Fahrenkopf said the association was pushing for a study to assess whether the I-gaming industry has the technological wherewithal to address both problem and underage gambling.
"Initially, the AGA opposed Internet gambling due to our concern that the technology did not exist to regulate with strict law enforcement oversight," the statement read. "Over the last decade, great strides have been made in this area and it is increasingly evident that protections can be put in place that would help make this popular activity safe."
The AGA said that it commends Frank and his efforts to examine the issue of Internet gambling, pointing out that he has long been a champion of individual freedom, and a supporter of the rights of American citizens to spend their leisure time as they see fit.
While the AGA said it is behind Frank's efforts, it is still very much in support of a national Internet gambling study, which was proposed last year by Reps. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and Jon Porter, R-Nev., and is rumored to be reintroduced in the coming weeks.
"The AGA is on the record in support of further study of this issue," the statement read. "We believe hearings on Chairman Frank's legislation will provide a valuable opportunity for gathering the facts about the many issues surrounding Internet gambling, including the ability to prevent underage gambling and other regulatory safeguards. We look forward to monitoring the hearings."
Nonetheless, the AGA said it will put any legislative proposal concerning Internet gambling, including Frank's, through three tests to determine whether it will gain the group's support: 1) states' rights to regulate gaming must be protected; 2) the legislation must not create competitive advantages or disadvantages between and among commercial casinos, Native American casinos, state lotteries and pari-mutuel wagering operations; and 3) no form of gaming that currently is legal should be made illegal.