AGA seeks new approach to sports betting

Sports BookThe volume of illegal sports betting across the U.S. dwarfs the regulated legal betting at Nevada sports books which handled $4.2 billion in wagers last year.

No one pretends that it is possible to effectively police the billions of dollars in illegal wagering. Perhaps the time has come for a modernized approach that recognizes the scope of the issue and increasing customer demand that is driven by television coverage  of sports.

More than 30 law enforcement leaders from across the country gathered Friday at the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) first-ever Law Enforcement Summit to better understand the massive illegal sports betting market in the U.S and what steps can be taken to address it.

Law enforcement spoke of the illegal sports betting market as a significant problem and of regulation as a potential solution. Based on input from the Summit, the AGA’s Illegal Gambling Advisory Board will author an after-action report to serve as a guide for policymakers, regulators and sports leagues  to develop potential solutions.

“The illegal sports betting market is a growing problem and no group is more credible in carrying that message and identifying a solution than members of law enforcement,” said AGA President Geoff Freeman. “Today’s Summit highlighted that the illegal sports betting market funds large criminal enterprises and fails to protect the integrity of the sports we all love. It’s time for a modernized approach that will support law enforcement around the country.”

“Let’s face it, demand (for sports betting) is rising,” said Ed Davis, former Boston police commissioner of the City and a member of AGA’s Illegal Gambling Advisory Board. “We need to look at the utility of a regulated, transparent sports betting market. Consumers would rather do this in a regulated market that provides consumer protections, integrity of the game, and I would rather have certainty and transparency. It’s easier to maintain public safety in that type of environment.”

Attendees included the following organizations: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA); International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP); Interpol D.C.; Major Cities Chiefs Association; Major County Sheriffs’ Association; National Black Prosecutors Association; National District Attorneys Association; National Organization for Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE); National Sheriffs’ Association; The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP); U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE);Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE); the Louisiana State Police; and the National Association of Attorneys General Gaming Committee. Several gaming practitioners and regulators also attended.

The Summit, led by members of AGA’s Illegal Gambling Advisory Board, included a demonstration from Genius Sports Group, which showcased its ability to use cutting-edge technology to monitor integrity of games. Karl Bennison, chief of the Enforcement Division at the Nevada Gaming Control Board, and other gaming industry leaders presented on the successes of legalized, regulated sports betting in Nevada.

Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. Email: 

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