New AGA White Paper Discusses Illegal Gaming Machines


A new white paper from the AGA is looking to clamp down on the proliferation of illegal gaming machines across the United States. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Fueling a variety of issues

The American Gaming Association (AGA) has released a new white paper detailing the increasing use of illegal gaming machines across the United States. The report calls on the authorities to clamp down on these mostly illegal or unregulated units often found in convenience stores, gas stations, and bars.

The AGA tweeted out the white paper titled “Skilled at Deception: How Unregulated Gaming Machines Endanger Consumers and Dilute Investments in Local Economies” on Monday:

In a statement, AGA vice president of government relations and gaming policy counsel Jessica Feil spoke about the rapid increase in the number of unregulated machines that exploit loopholes and ignore the law while being subject to “little to no oversight”. The AGA believes that these types of devices are fueling problem gambling and crime across communities, as well as taking tax revenue away from the authorities.

unregulated machines that exploit loopholes and ignore the law

Gambling is currently legal in some shape or form in 44 states. According to the AGA, regulated gambling in the US generates more than $261bn and direct tax revenue of $41bn, with the industry encompassing over 1.8 million jobs.

Problems with illegal gaming machines

Due to the lack of regulation for illegal gambling machines, it is difficult for the AGA to accurately estimate how many of these units there are across the country. However, some analysts believe that certain states have tens of thousands in operation.

As these are often illegal, they do not follow the rules and regulations in a given state; nor do they undergo testing that proves their fairness. Children and self-excluded gamblers can often play because such games are widely accessible to the public. These machines also have links to crime as they are often used for money laundering purposes or to help fund organized crime groups.

establishments housing these devices were able to stay open under lockdown rules

While regulated land-based casinos had to close down for long periods in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic raged on. Contrastingly, the use of illegal gaming machines increased during this time, as establishments housing these devices were able to stay open under lockdown rules.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich warned about the dangers of increased gaming machine play, commenting: “History has taught us that unregulated gambling gives rise to an array of legal and social concerns, and ultimately erodes public confidence in the safety and integrity of the whole gaming industry.”

Recommendations of the white paper

One of the main recommendations of the AGA white paper is to have policymakers and law enforcement prioritize the enforcement of laws to get rid of these unregulated and illegal machines. Efforts would include clarifying any laws that currently allow for ambiguity.

The document also calls on states and communities to keep banning these types of games, insisting that they resist the temptation to authorize them in an attempt to create a new revenue source, particularly amid the economic fallout from the pandemic. Finally, the white paper urges businesses to remove any unregulated or illegal games from their premises.

rooting out these machines should be part of the broader strategy to protect our communities”

Jessica Feil did acknowledge that it can be tricky for law enforcement to deal with the unregulated market. She went on to say: “While we understand law enforcement must prioritize their efforts and resources, rooting out these machines should be part of the broader strategy to protect our communities.”

The AGA is presenting a G2E webinar on April 22 about combating unregulated gaming machines. A variety of speakers will engage in discussions on the issue.





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