AGA says online poker is "safe bet"

25 October 2011
(PRESS RELEASE) -- Below is a statement from Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., president and CEO of the American Gaming Association regarding today’s Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee hearing entitled “Internet Gaming: Is There a Safe Bet?”

“Today’s hearing on Internet gambling made it abundantly clear that the “safe bet” is to allow states, following federal guidelines, to license and regulate online poker. Such action would protect U.S. consumers, keep children from gambling on the Internet, and provide the tools law enforcement needs to shut down illegal Internet gambling operators. It would also create new jobs and tax revenue at a time when our country sorely needs both.

“Testimony heard today and other testimony presented in writing, such as ours, demonstrates that new technology and processes used in ecommerce have been successfully adapted in jurisdictions where Internet gambling is legal, such as Great Britain, France, Italy and provinces in Canada, to keep minors from betting online and prevent illegal activities, such as money laundering and fraud.

“The subcommittee today heard clear evidence that millions of U.S. residents who play online are being put at risk because they are playing illegally with companies that are poorly regulated and, in the vast majority of the cases, outside the reach of U.S. law enforcement. The only way to protect U.S. consumers and ensure that minors aren’t gambling on the Internet is to allow the states to license and regulate the online poker.

“We support state licensing and regulation, following federal guidelines, on online poker because it is substantially different than other forms of gaming. First, it is a game that vast numbers of Americans have historically played and that millions of Americans still play.

“Second, unlike other forms of Internet gambling, poker is primarily a game of skill. And, poker is played between or among individuals, whereas in other forms of Internet gambling the customer is playing against the “house.” Finally, the support we’ve seen around the country is really focused on online poker and not on other forms of Internet gambling.

“We do not support any specific legislation, but there are certain provisions that any change should include:

- Each state should have the right to determine whether online poker should be legalized within their jurisdictions.

- Federal guidelines should be established that the states must follow to insure a consistent regulatory and legal framework.

- U.S. law enforcement should be provided with the ability to go after illegal operators and successfully prosecute them.

“We welcomed the hearings today and urge Congress to act to protect the U.S. consumer and ensure that online poker is being provided by law abiding, responsible companies.”