AGA Withdraws from Online Gambling Fight Amid Infighting

aga-logoThe big story of the day was the news that the American Gaming Association (AGA) will be pulling out of the online gambling fight due to infighting amongst its members according to the Wall Street Journal.

This does not mean the AGA is now opposed to online gambling, it simply means they are withdrawing from the debate.

The move likely has everything to do with Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. and their vehement opposition to online gaming, which is in opposition to companies like Caesars and MGM, both of whom have advocated for online expansion.

This pullback comes after new AGA CEO Geoff Freeman took over for longtime AGA chief Frank Fahrenkopf in April of 2013, and shifted the group’s position on online gambling from not completely against it to actively fighting for legalization.

So the AGA’s new position is actually extremely similar to the group’s old position.

It now appears that Freeman’s reins have been pulled, as factions in the AGA (perhaps Freeman himself) apparently fears a Mexican Standoff is about to occur.

“One of the things I’ve learned in this industry is we are extraordinarily competent at shooting at one another,” Freeman told the Wall Street Journal. “The snipers in this industry are of the highest quality, and if you let that be the focus, we’ll kill each other.”

This isn’t much of a surprise

Despite his support for online gaming, earlier this year MGM Resorts Chairman Jim Murren called on the AGA to take a step back from the online gaming fight and focus on issues where the group’s members were in agreement.

The AGA’s comments to the WSJ today essentially echoed Murren’s comments to the Las Vegas Review-Journal back in March where the MGM executive stated, “I don’t want the AGA to find itself mired in a tremendous amount of controversy and infighting. I feel like the Internet has become too divisive a topic when there are so many other topics we want to put forward where we can all agree.”

Murren went on to tell the LVRJ that the AGA backed lobbying group the Coalition for Consumer Online Protections (C4COP), which is the antagonist for the Adelson-backed Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG), should be the way this battle is fought, and this appears to be what will happen.

C4COP is still lobbying for online gambling

The Poker players Alliance quickly messaged their members on social media that they, along with C4COP, would still be vigilant in fighting for online gaming expansion, so while the AGA has publicly withdrawn from the fight to avoid rifts in its membership, the individual members are still drawing their virtual lines in the Internet sand.

Here is the message from the PPA to its members:

Unfortunately, the American Gaming Association, (AGA) due to an internal strife has stepped down, and is no longer leading the legislative efforts on behalf of Internet #poker. This means that individual gaming companies and industry organizations like PPA and C4COP will play a bigger role in advocating for Internet poker regulation and that the players voices need to be louder than ever!

Adelson and CSIG will continue to fight against expansion and for an all-out ban, while the PPA, and companies like MGM, Caesars, et al. and C4COP will continue to fight his efforts.


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