AGA President Bill Miller Calls on Media to Stop Referencing Unregulated Offshore Sportsbooks

Posted on: May 17, 2020, 08:33h. 

Last updated on: May 17, 2020, 11:08h.

American Gaming Association (AGA) President and CEO Bill Miller is urging media outlets covering the evolving sports betting industry to refrain from mentioning offshore sportsbooks.

AGA sports betting PASPA
The sportsbook inside Rivers Casino in Philadelphia was busy before COVID-19 wiped out all sports in the US. The president of the AGA says media outlets should reference such legal operations – not offshore books – when sports return. (Image: Matt Rourke/AP)

May 14 marked the two-year anniversary of the US Supreme Court repealing the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), passed by Congress and signed into law by then-President George H.W. Bush in 1992.

The law banned sports betting everywhere but Nevada. Three other states were granted partial immunity – Montana, Oregon, and Delaware – for having sports lotteries and parlay betting at the time of the bill’s passage. But only in Nevada could oddsmakers offer traditional lines, such as single-game event outcomes.

That all changed two years ago, and 17 states have joined Nevada in getting legal full-scale sports betting operational: Delaware, New Jersey, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York, Michigan, Mississippi, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Arkansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, and Oregon.

AGA Call to Action

The AGA boss says as the gaming industry and related media celebrates the PASPA strike down anniversary, now is the time to voice concerns that referencing illegal online sportsbooks isn’t in the regulated market’s best interest.

“PASPA never came close to doing what policymakers intended. Instead of protecting competition, the failed law perpetuated a massive, $150 billion-a-year illegal marketplace that left athletes and consumers vulnerable,” Miller stated in a LinkedIn post.

Miller says it’s difficult for sports bettors – especially new ones – to distinguish legal sportsbooks from unregulated offshore operators.

This becomes especially difficult when mainstream publications continue to legitimize the dangerous illegal market, blurring the lines between legal, regulated sports betting and the predatory, unregulated offshore market,” he continued. Miller cites major media outlets, including Reuters, Yahoo! Sports, and The Wall Street Journal, as being among the guilty parties.

The AGA, which is the leading lobbying firm in DC for casino operators, says the US gaming industry is one of the most-regulated sectors in the country. Miller claimed that while tax revenue from legal sports betting goes to state governments to support various programs, income on offshore books is often used for nefarious activities like “money laundering, drug trade, and human trafficking.”

Illegal Solution

Miller believes the media needs to stop calling unregulated sportsbooks simply an “offshore” operation – instead, he claims the stark difference from legal and offshore is that the offshore books are “illegal, unregulated, and predatory.”

So, why do so many media outlets continue to reference offshore operations? Unlike in the US sports betting markets, the offshore operators have much more leniency in offering novelty and prop bets.

No state gaming regulator has yet to approve oddsmakers to offer lines on politics, reality television competition outcomes, or the fate of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

That might change in the years ahead. Legal betting on the Academy Awards has recently been experienced in the US, and West Virginia toyed with the idea of allowing political wagers earlier this year.