The American Gaming Association introduced a revised Code of Conduct that specifically addresses online gambling. This is the first instance of the AGA, one of the most recognized lobbyist groups for gambling in North America, including online gambling in their Code of Conduct, showcasing the growth of online gambling over the years. The Code of Conduct was first drafted in 2003 and has been updated to keep up with industry standards. The updated code obviously does not address legal betting sites that are operating offshore.
Since 1994, the AGA has been a lobbying group for brick-and-mortar casinos. The company was made up of casino owners, employees and representatives from gambling manufacturing brands. Over the years, the employee core has extended to gambling suppliers, tribal casinos and others. The AGA’s overall mission is to protect against the spread of misinformation regarding gambling policies while simultaneously fostering innovation and growth within the industry. According to the AGA, the US casino business pulls in $240 billion annually and supports over a million jobs.
As the digital side of gambling has expanded over the years, it was only a matter of time before the AGA officially embraced online gambling. The revised Code of Conduct reflects the technological innovation that has helped reshape the industry. It also shows the societal and legal advances towards gambling. The actual Code of Conduct language discusses how AGA casino companies must take steps to prevent underage gambling in their online platforms as well as their land-based venues. Other notable changes to the Code demand transparent casino game odds and payout figures, transparent advertising and more widespread access to gambling educational resources and gambling addiction services.
Online gambling and the AGA have not always seen eye to eye, so these changes to their Code of Conduct are an accurate depiction of the varied perception of the industry between then and now. Back in 2014, the AGA stood by their land-based casino constituents in describing online gambling as a plague on the industry that would take away from jobs and revenue. New Jersey is an example of a state where the two platforms can coexist. The Garden State is one of three in the country to have legalized online casinos and poker games. The online service enforces stringent policies on age and location verification, which aligns with the AGA’s core values. It seems the AGA now believes that both brick-and-mortar and online gambling can complement each other to forge a more holistic gambling experience. Perhaps this is the reason the AGA decided to begin its Responsible Gaming Education Week in Atlantic City.
The AGA has not taken any significant steps to lobby for online gambling as it has for brick-and-mortar gambling, but this recent show of support is a step in the right direction. With New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada already running regulated online gambling, and California, Pennsylvania and New York close behind, it is only a matter of time before more states follow suit. The end goal is to build an interstate online gambling network, creating a vast player pool that could potentially join other countries like the UK. If the AGA is able to channel some of their resources into lobbying for online gambling nationwide, it could be the catalyst needed to jumpstart the domestic market. We do not anticipate that the AGA will come to show support for legal online casinos that accept US players as these destinations do compete with state regulated online casinos.