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US States Call on Federal Government to Tackle Illegal Offshore Gambling Sites

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Several U.S. states have joined forces to request the federal government's help in tackling the issue of illegal offshore sportsbooks and online casinos.

Gaming officials from seven states have written to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, calling for a crackdown on illegal gambling sites. The letter highlighted the risks associated with such operations, including a lack of investment in responsible gaming programs, a loss of tax revenue that funds important initiatives, and no age verification requirements to protect minors.

The American Gaming Association (AGA) reported that Americans bet over $510 billion a year with illegal and unregulated operations, which cost the legal industry $44.2 billion in gaming revenue and resulted in state governments losing $13.3 billion in lost tax revenue.

The amount of unregulated gaming machines in the U.S. continues to grow, and these machines take advantage of gamblers. Slot machines in Nevada had a 7.16% win rate compared to an estimated 25% win rate for unregulated machines, according to the AGA.

State gaming officials are requesting that the Department of Justice helps address illegal gambling and prosecute offshore sites. Oversight and strict rules are necessary to prevent criminal activity and protect gamblers.

"The supervision we provide in these areas as well as others is critical to the operation of a legal, regulated gaming market that protects consumers," the letter reads. "Illegal offshore casinos and sportsbooks undergo none of these procedures - they often will simply disappear with their customers' funds and provide no resources to assist those who may need help."

Commercial or tribal casino gaming is legal in 42 states, iGaming is legal in six states, and sports betting is legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia, according to the AGA.

The current situation results in illegal sites being able to take advantage of consumers by offering lower odds and zero protection for customers. The government needs to ensure that there is a fair and equal playing field between legal and illegal sites, as this will ultimately protect consumers and help the legal gambling industry to thrive.

The states' joint request is a step in the right direction, but it remains to be seen how the federal government will respond. While state regulators are doing their part to enforce strict rules and prevent illegal gambling, federal support is necessary to prosecute illegal operators and protect consumers. Illegal offshore gambling operations pose a significant threat to the industry, consumers, and state governments, and action must be taken to prevent their continued growth.

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