AGA Urging Federal Government to Prosecute Illegal Gaming Machines

American Gaming Association

The American Gaming Association is trying to get the federal government to target the company’s that create illegal gaming machines to stop operations.

Illegal gambling devices are nothing new. For decades, criminal organizations as well as everyday people have operated such machines for profit. In some states, like Pennsylvania, gaming machines are under fire for not fitting into a category where they are regulated and licensed. Because of the many issues surrounding unregulated games, the American Gaming Association (AGA) is hopeful that the federal government will target the companies that manufacture such games.

A letter was sent to the Department of Justice this week by the AGA with CEO and President Bill Miller stating that support and resources from the DOJ would be helpful in fighting the devices. Help from federal officials and law enforcement agencies could help to stop such operations from taking place in communities across America.

Enforce Laws

The AGA would like to see the DOJ enforce a law that requires companies that make, sell, or ship a gambling device across state lines to register with the federal government. Companies that are in the gaming industry already doe this but those who manufacture the illegal games do not. Violators of the Johnson Act must pay a fine up to $5,000 and face prison time of up to two years for breaking the law. Any machines connected to the company must be forfeited.

The group pointed out that illegal and unregulated games continue to avoid the law and it puts consumers at risk. The AGA wants to see the Johnson Act utilized so that illegal gaming companies will have to answer for their activities in the gambling industry.

The machines that are in operation within gas stations, bars, and convenience stores in many states do so by finding loopholes in the law or blatantly break them. Such games are known as skill or sweepstakes machines, among other names.

Additional Issues

Along with not following the Johnson Act, the AGA points out that the machines also break other laws, such as anti-money laundering protocols. The games are not tested or monitored to ensure that gaming is fair for consumers.

The machines have also been proven to be an issue among problem gamblers and minors. Those who are on self-exclusion lists in certain states can easily play the unregulated games, which defeats the purpose of the list.

Examples of the illegal machines can be seen in states like Virginia. Over the summer, the state banned skill games, but the illegal machines are still operating in the state. A skill-gaming manufacturer is trying to see the ban overturned, but it is unclear if it will. The manufacturer feels the games are perfectly fine as they are skill-based.

This of course doesn’t fall in line with regulations in Virginia and is what is happening in states across the US. It is estimated tens of thousands of the machines are operating illegally in some states and the AGA wants federal help to shut it down. Some machines operate in plain sight while others are hidden, which makes it difficult to stop operations.

The AGA has pointed out that the licensed and regulated casino industry follow the law and do what is required to stay in business. Since there are entities that do not, it is only fair to apply the law and prosecute for the illegal actions taken.

It is unclear if the federal government plans to get involved in any capacity. We shall see in the coming weeks if a response is given and what might be done to try and finally stop the illegal machines from operating throughout the country.

Associate Writer: Geoff enjoys both live and online poker as well as casino games, and is particularly knowledgeable about the legal landscape of online gambling.