Titus Cracks Down on Illegal, Offshore Sports Books
Washington, DC, June 29, 2022 | Sara Severens (202-924-1719)
Today Congressional Gaming Caucus co-chairs, Dina Titus (NV-01) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to make a concerted effort to fight illegal, offshore sports books.
Washington, DC – Today Congressional Gaming Caucus co-chairs, Dina Titus (NV-01) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to make a concerted effort to fight illegal, offshore sports books which expose Americans to financial and cyber vulnerabilities; do not have protocols to address money laundering, sports integrity, or age restrictions; and undermine states’ efforts to capture much-needed tax revenue through legal sports betting channels.
“While sports betting was largely illegal for the last several decades, now 35 states and the District of Colombia allow regulated sports betting. Over 157 million Americans have, or soon will have, access to legal channels to place their bets, with millions more in proximity to a neighboring state where they can wager legally,” the Members wrote. “We ask that the Justice Department work with the gaming industry, sports leagues, and other stakeholders to identify the worst actors, investigate and prosecute them, and educate Americans on the dangers associated with illegally wagering on sports.”
"Offshore websites are a significant threat to consumer protections and the economic benefits legal gaming provides for communities across the country.” said American Gaming Association President and CEO Bill Miller. “We are grateful for the leadership of Gaming Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Titus and Reschenthaler drawing attention to this pervasive issue, and the Members who signed on to this call to action. We look forward to continuing to work with allies on the Hill, the sports leagues and the Department of Justice to prioritize robust enforcement that will protect Americans from the predatory illegal marketplace.”
“We appreciate Congress’s continued engagement and join in urging the Department of Justice to address problems posed by illegal offshore gambling operators, an issue that affects all who care about the integrity of sports,” said Sabrina Perel, NFL Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer.
While 35 states and Washington D.C. now have legal, regulated sports betting, offshore operations like Bovada, MyBookie, and BetOnline continue to bait vulnerable Americans with generous promotions and favorable odds while exposing them to financial and cyber threats.
These operations lack protections found in legal, regulated sportsbooks, like secured personal and financial information, identity verification, and information sharing with sports leagues to promote game integrity. They also fail to offer responsible gaming functions like time limits, budgets, self-exclusion, and age restrictions.
Not only are these illegal sportsbooks a threat to consumer protection, but according to the FBI, organized crime groups often use money from illegal sports betting operations to fund other criminal activities. These include money laundering, human trafficking, and weapons and drug trafficking.
Unfortunately, offshore sportsbooks operate openly over the internet and can be easily accessed through any computer or smartphone. This creates confusion for consumers who may not even know they are wagering illegally and it undermines legal sports betting channels that generate tax revenue for states and participating tribes.
In addition to Reps. Titus and Reschenthaler, this letter was signed by 28 members of Congress including Reps. Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), André Carson (D-IN), Thomas R. Suozzi (D-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Mark E. Amodei (R-NV), David J. Trone (D-MD), John Joyce (R-PA), Jefferson Van Drew (R-NJ), Susie Lee (D-NV), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Colin Z. Allred (D-TX), Haley M. Stevens (D-MI), Ashley Hinson (R-IA), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Steven Horsford (D-NV), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Fred Keller (R-PA), David P. Joyce (R-OH), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Grace Meng (D-NY), Ben Cline (R-VA), and Pete Aguilar (D-CA) and was endorsed by American Gaming Association (AGA), National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Hockey League (NHL), and Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour.
In March, the Gaming Caucus co-chairs introduced the Shifting Limits on Thresholds (SLOT) ACT. This bipartisan legislation would raise the threshold for slot winnings. The current threshold for reporting slot winnings was set at $1,200 in 1977 and has not been updated in the 45 years since.
Read today’s full letter here.