A coalition of seven gaming states' regulators have urged the U.S. Department of Justice to make combating illegal, offshore sportsbooks and online casinos a priority. The Michigan Gaming Control Board is the latest state to join the group.
In an April 28 letter, MGCB Executive Director Henry Williams and fellow state regulators asked U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to address threats posed by offshore sites that state regulators cannot tackle alone.
"In Michigan, strict laws and rules govern internet gaming and sports betting and provide consumer protections, promote confidence, and ensure fair and honest gaming," Williams said. "We are willing to help the U.S. Department of Justice in any way we can as it pursues enforcement of U.S. laws against offshore illegal gaming enterprises that take advantage of our citizens."
Other state regulators signing the letter represent Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Nevada.
Kirk D. Hendrick
Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman Kirk D. Hendrick sent the letter, which outlines the dangers that offshore gambling represents, highlighting the lack of investment in responsible gaming programs, the absence of age verification requirements, and money laundering risk.
The regulators also emphasized that the unlicensed sector has no assurances of fair play and does not pay any state taxes. Offshore operations also are not subject to licensing requirements, unlike legal operators.
"State regulators like the MGCB ensure operators offer products that pass technical standards and testing, and we also require operators to comply with reporting requirements," Williams said. "Offshore operators flaunt state regulations and offer products that do not protect the public, which greatly concerns me and my fellow state regulators."
In the letter, the state regulators noted they are "proud" of the work they do to protect the public, including enforcing payout requirements and dispute resolution procedures. Unlike their regulated counterparts, illegal operators "simply may disappear with their customers' funds and provide no resources to assist those who may need help," regulators warned.
"Regulated operators recognize licensing as a privilege that can be taken away, but illegal operators do not face similar consequences for failure to follow laws and maintain integrity," the regulators explained. The gaming states' regulators provide supervision and enforcement, but they warned that illegal operators "do not answer to any authority."
The regulators' letter follows other recent industry calls for a crackdown on unregulated gambling. In November, the American Gaming Association put out a report in which it detailed the pervasiveness of illegal gambling throughout the country, also calling for further measures to fight this growing black market.