American Gaming Association

AGA Pushes States Rights Principles in Recent Policy Update

The American Gaming Association (AGA), the United States’ leading lobbying and trade group representing the US’s land-based casino industry, has embraced the concept of individual US states determining their own future as it pertains to sports betting amid a new set of policy principles on the topic.

The AGA’s policy update comes as part of the organization’s continuing push against the US’s federal-level PASPA sports betting ban.  PASPA, or the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, has effectively barred all US states except grandfathered Nevada from offering single-event sports wagering.  The AGA has long been against PASPA, which it has described as antiquated and ineffective, serving only the purposes of organized crime in its misguided goals.  The AGA also continues to back New Jersey’s legal efforts to overturn PASPA at the US Supreme Court level, having filed an amicus brief in December supporting New Jersey’s ongoing legal challenge.

Regarding the policy update, the AGA’s Board of Directors announced the group’s adaptation of the following public-policy principles.  The first two of the four points directly represent the AGA’s ongoing opposition to PASPA:

  • Defer to states regarding the desirability of regulating sports betting as all forms of casino wagering;
  • Ensure the integrity of sports betting and sports through state licensing and regulation;
  • Make all sports betting businesses transparent to law enforcement; and
  • Ensure a tax regime does not undermine regulated sports betting operations’ ability to compete against illegal offshore operators.

As the group’s statement notes, the AGA’s stated goal is the “modernization” of PASPA, though one suspects the legal abolition of the quarter-century old law through a Supreme Court strikedown would work just as well.  The AGA notes that its membership “strongly believes [a modernization of PASPA] would increase fan engagement and entertainment, empower law enforcement and enhance the protections surrounding the integrity of all professional sporting events nationwide.”

According to Geoff Freeman, the AGA’s current president and CEO, “The stars are aligning to finally repeal this failing law — the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. At a time when Washington remains deeply divided, sports betting has the support of Americans of all political stripes. Legal, regulated sports betting will enhance fan engagement and entertainment, empower law enforcement and strengthen the integrity of every game. Everyone wins.”

As expected, however, the AGA’s embracing of states’ rights within the policy update did not include the online wagering sphere.  The AGA remains hamstrung by the active opposition to online gambling put forth by the group’s largest corporate donor Las Vegas Sands Corp. and its CEO, Sheldon Adelson.  Despite states’ rights being every bit as relevant to online wagering as they are to the land-based variety, one finds words such as “Internet” and “online” nowhere in this latest AGA policy effort.

Silence of the “onlines” aside, the AGA also released the top-line results of a nationwide survey on American sports-betting habits and beliefs.  The survey was conducted on the AGA’s behalf by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (GQR) in late January.  The GQR survey included phone responses from 1,200 American adults, and was supplemented by an oversample of 400 online respondents.  The AGA declared these to be among the survey’s most important findings:

  • Nearly six in ten Americans are in favor of ending the federal sports betting ban to allow states to decide whether to offer sports betting;
  • 72 percent of avid sports fans are in favor of ending the federal ban;
  • More than six in ten 18-36 year olds are in favor of legal sports betting;
  • Nearly 2 in 3 Americans believe legalized sports betting would allow local communities to benefit from additional tax revenues and job creation; and
  • Were it legal to bet on sports, roughly 28 million Americans – the size of Texas’ population – would be more likely to wager on sports.

We’ll have additional findings from the GQR survey in an upcoming feature.

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