The fight to regulate online poker and gambling in the U.S. lost a major player as the American Gaming Association (AGA) has announced that it will no longer be supporting the cause.
Citing divisiveness among the casinos it represents, AGA CEO Geoff Freeman stated that the organization will cease lobbying efforts regarding online gambling, referring to the matter as “an issue that the association cannot lead on,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
Just a few months ago, Freeman was seemingly leading the way in efforts to legalize Internet gambling. The AGA honcho came across as very well-spoken and knowledgeable in testifying before federal lawmakers in December at a hearing centered around a bill proposed by Rep. Joe Barton.
But it appears that Freeman’s hands are now tied by AGA members who cannot find common ground as to the benefits of online gambling. One of those members, Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson, is leading the charge against regulated online gambling. Adelson established the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling in the same month that Freeman testified before a House committee.
Despite a number of AGA member casinos throwing their support behind online gambling, it appears that Adelson’s influence has won them over. At least to the point that the AGA will not actively promote and lobby for online gambling legislation.
Freeman expressed regret that the AGA has hung up its gloves on the matter and put forth his own observation of gaming insiders. “One of the things I’ve learned in this industry is we are extraordinarily competent at shooting at one another… The snipers in this industry are of the highest quality and, if you let that be the focus, we’ll kill each other.”
The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) will continue the fight for online poker and gambling legislation in the U.S. As will the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection (C4COP), which was created to thwart the efforts of Adelson and his coalition.
Online poker and gambling regulation has been making progress as of late. Although no new states have enacted Internet gambling laws and launched since Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey did last year, a number of states, particularly California, have been moving a bit closer to doing so.
The AGA dropping out of the picture can certainly be viewed as a setback. However, the fight will go on with the PPA and C4COP at the helm.