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Gaming Industry Group Takes Stand Against Illegal Gambling

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The gaming industry is pushing back against illegal gambling activities, such as black market slot machines, Internet sweepstakes cafes and illegal sports betting and online gaming. MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports, the industry is hoping state officials will help them in this effort.

The president of the American Gaming Association spoke to a gathering of state attorneys general in Biloxi Monday, seeking their support on the group’s new initiative against illegal gambling. Geoff Freeman is head of the gaming association.

"Illegal gambling across this country is rampant," he says. "It's an industry that's growing. And I believe that we, as the American Gaming Association, and you, as the Nationall Association of Attorneys General, have a shared interest in putting an end to illegal gambling."

Freeman says illegal gambling is unregulated. That means, he says, there are no restrictions against underage gamblers; no requirements for employee background checks; and no participation in local communities. He contrasts that to legal gaming, which he says generates $38 billion dollars in taxes in 40 states.

"Consider the fact that every dollar that's diverted by illegal operations is a dollar siphoned away from schools," he says. "It's a dollar siphoned away from hospitals and other health care initiatives. It's a dollar siphoned away from public safety and other initiatives where the casino gaming industry contributes."

Freeman was one of a number of speakers at a conference organized by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood in Biloxi this week that's focusing on digital crime. Hood says the issues are varied.

"It's everything from cyber-bullying, to child exploitation, to child pornography, to cybersecurity data breaches - all these issues are brought to us by technology," he says. "So that's what we attorneys general are trying to do - to make sure we are ready for the next wave of dealing with crime."

The gaming association says its new initiative will include research on illegal gambling, as well as the creation of online tools so consumers can learn more about the issue and provide tips to law enforcement.