The following statement was made in response to the Congressional letter to the Department of Justice supporting an investigation into and enforcement action against the unlawful market: “Offshore gambling websites are a significant threat to consumer protections and the economic benefits legal gaming provides for communities across the country. Eradicating these websites, and all forms of illegal gambling is one of AGA’s top priorities.
“After our initial outreach to the Department of Justice in April, today’s letter to Attorney General Garland demonstrates the broad interest in addressing illegal gaming. We are grateful to Gaming Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Titus and Reschenthaler for their leadership and the Members who joined this call to action.
“Our country’s leaders are clearly and appropriately alarmed by the prevalence of offshore sportsbooks and law enforcement must act to identify the worst actors, investigate and prosecute them.
“We look forward to continuing to work with allies on the Hill, sports leagues, and the Department of Justice to prioritize robust enforcement that will protect Americans from the predatory illegal marketplace.”
The letter stated: “As this nascent legal market continues to expand, we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that the illegal market is thriving and operating unfettered. These offshore operations, including Bovada, MyBookie, and BetOnline, have developed sophisticated platforms that are nearly indistinguishable from those of legal providers. These illegal operations also offer generous promotions and favorable odds to entice US customers and are frequently cited in reputable sports media channels. Internet searches nationwide for offshore sportsbooks increased by almost 40 percent in 2021, outpacing searches for legal ones, with Bovada constituting half of all sportsbook brand searches. These dangerous operators are not relegated to the dark web but instead are easily accessed through any computer or smartphone. This creates confusion for many consumers who may not even know they are wagering illegally.
“Moreover, the protections Americans have learned to expect from legal regulated sportsbooks, like responsible gaming functions, secured personal and financial information, and identity verification, are non-existent. The illegal operators are not interested in helping bettors wager responsibly by providing checks like time limits, budgets, or self-exclusion. They do not adhere to federal or state financial regulations, so consumers can never be sure if their information is secure or if they will receive their winnings. These operators are not bound by age restrictions, meaning children and young adults can be exploited by these websites. Finally, these illegal operators do not help promote the integrity of sporting contests by sharing with sports leagues information related to unusual betting patterns or insider betting, as many regulated sports books do.”