The American Gaming Association has announced it is no longer going to endorse efforts to promote online poker in the US due to an internal conflict of interest.
According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), American Gaming Association chief executive Geoff Freeman said yesterday that online gambling was
an issue that the association cannot leadon because of disagreements within the organization concerning the direction that the American Gaming Association (AGA) should be taking.
Freeman commented that members within the AGA were
extraordinarily competent at shooting each other, and he concluded that if the situation was allowed to continue
we´ll kill each other.
Divisions within the American Gaming Association
It is no secret that the AGA is being torn in two different directions by members supporting Internet poker in the US and those opposed to it. Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts are primary supporters of the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection – an organization established to stop a congressional ban on online gaming – while Sheldon Adelson´s Las Vegas Sands Corporation created the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling in an attempt to restore the original interpretation of the Wire Act and protect their own casino interests.
Only last December Freeman and Sands Corporation representative Andrew Abboud clashed in a hearing before the Senate´s Subcommittee on the direction that Federal legislation should take, and Abboud again made an appearance at the California State Assembly’s Committee on Governmental Organization in April when he was shot down in flames by Committee Chairperson Isadore Hall for the Sands Corporation hypocritically promoting Internet gambling in its Las Vegas casinos.
Murren and Pappas Not Surprised by the Announcement
Two staunch supporters of online poker in the US were not surprised by the AGA´s announcement – MGM Resorts CEO James Murren stating that the conflict over Internet gaming should be fought out between the respective coalitions so that the AGA was free to concentrate on other issues, while John Pappas – Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance – commented that the Association had scaled back on its activities for some time, but it had now only become public news.
Pappas believes that the AGA declaring their neutrality on the issue of Internet poker in the US will actually encourage more focused groups to pick up the baton and fill the void. He said that the Poker Players Alliance will
always be there and that individual casino companies will continue to play a major role in funding efforts and lobbying to see a favorable solution to the issue of legalized internet poker.
AGA Withdrawal Good News for PokerStars
The news of the AGA withdrawing its support for Internet poker in the US will be warmly received in the Isle of Man. PokerStars accused the American Gaming Association of
economic warfare when the AGA attempted to block the company´s application for an operating license in New Jersey in March 2013, and said that the AGA was protecting its own membership in a
thinly-veiled anti-competitive campaign.
With the American Gaming Association officially neither supporting nor campaigning against online poker in the US, it is likely that opposition against PokerStars re-entry into the US will reduce significantly, and – as State legislation evolves – that the site will find an entry point in the US market in the near future.