Public Gaming International July/August 2023

30 PUBLIC GAMING INTERNATIONAL • JULY/AUGUST 2023 More and more states are, like Massachusetts, coming to the conclusion that gambling is an activity that has surpassed a threshold of consumer demand that makes it necessary to regulate and tax it rather than attempt to prohibit it. Better to exercise control and oversight which enables the government to promote Responsible Gaming, minimize illegality like moneylaundering and fraud, and channel economic benefit back to society. The alternative to the regulate and tax model (or, even better, exercising even more government control via the Lottery model), is to enrich criminals by providing a fertile market for illegal gaming operators to satisfy the consumer demand. Now that many states are moving towards the regulate and tax model, state lawmakers realize they need help in the effort to enforce regulations against illegal operators. The U.S. Justice Department has the resources and the multi-state and multi-national purview to enforce the laws of the land. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has joined other states, including Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey and Illinois, in petitioning U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to help enforce the laws against illegal gambling operations, most of which are based outside of the U.S. Officials in those states asked the department to protect Americans from illegal offshore sportsbooks and online casinos that do not invest in Responsible Gaming programs, do not impose age verification requirements to protect minors, lack controls to prevent money laundering and guarantee fair payouts to customers, and divert tax revenues that belong to the people over to private shareholder and criminal interests. State gaming regulators also want to "ensure the immense amount of money generated by these bad actors is not used to bankroll other illegal activities such as human trafficking and the drug trade." "The many significant threats posed by offshore illegal gambling cannot be addressed by states alone and, therefore, require heightened federal attention and engagement," regulators from the seven states wrote. "We strongly encourage the Department of Justice to prioritize investigation and prosecution of these offshore sites, and stand ready to provide any assistance that we can as state gaming regulators." Mass. Regulators Join Call for U.S. Dept. of Justice to Enforce Laws Against Offshore Gaming Sites Following is excerpted, Edited version of op-ed … New research by the American Gaming Association shows that the overwhelming majority of American adults (85%) say the court made the right call in allowing states to decide whether to legalize sports betting. The public embrace of sports betting has drawn media attention to problem gambling and how to bet responsibly. That discussion is important, and one that the gaming industry welcomes. Even before Supreme Court ruling, illegal sports betting was a $150 billion annual market. Since the court’s decision, 37 states and Washington, D.C., have concluded that legal, regulated sports betting is better than the illegal markets that had always existed. But the rapid expansion of sports betting has prompted some to claim the court’s ruling is fueling a surge in problem gambling. Does anyone really believe problem gambling didn’t exist before 2018 when illegal sports betting was an annual $150 billion market? Illegal sports betting does not generate any money to support problem gambling programs. States earmarked $94 million in 2021 alone, much of which comes from casino gaming taxes, including rising revenues from sports betting. In part, that’s because as legal betting grows, the illegal market is shrinking – from $150 billion to about $64 billion last year. In 2019, less than half of online bets took place legally; today, more than 3 out of 4 occur in legal, regulated markets. Rising tax revenues for support services and the migration of players to the protections of the legal market are advancing responsible play. But we can always do more. The money is there. Sports betting has generated $3 billion in taxes for state governments since 2018. Advertising is one of the top five reasons bettors move to the legal market, and it raises awareness about problem gambling resources. Legal sports betting is creating more informed consumers, generating greater awareness for problem gambling resources and supporting essential public services. And the growth of sports betting is now sparking a national conversation about the best way to help those who struggle with problem gambling. Problem gambling resources have never been better funded and marketed than they are today. And that's evidence that states that have embraced legal sports betting made the right call. Bill Miller, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, explains why effective enforcement of the laws against illegal gambling is vital to a healthy society as well as a sustainable games-of-chance industry