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The American Gaming Association & Online Wagering

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AGABack in 2008, there was a high-powered meeting of what could be called the captains of the US Casino industry held in Las Vegas and where else? At the offices of IGT.  It was one of the most important meetings ever held by the American Gaming Association and there were some characters in that room to say the least.

Not to mention egos… oh, yes… lots of that too.  The discussion was whether or not the AGA’s powerful lobbying group would change its historical position on Internet gambling.  Up to that point, the politics of the AGA was essentially opposed to allowing gaming over the Internet fearing that it would eventually play havoc with the land based casino business in the United States.

There was also concern expressed about the ability to regulate and control the gambling once it moved into the ever expanding world of Cyberspace. A concern that turned out to be all too real.

Harrah’s Entertainment Chief, Gary Loveman and others, were pushing for a new policy embracing Internet gaming by the AGA… but, billionaire Steve Wynn was vigorously opposed to the idea and squashed the issue because the AGA by-laws require a unanimous vote to move on anything.

Frank Fahrenkoph, the Chief of the AGA said at the time, “I jokingly say I was neutered on Internet gaming. But, the rest of the world was not waiting for the casinos or the Congress.”

So, the AGA did nothing and over the next year the members watched as offshore companies like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker made fortunes from the massive online poker market coming from the United States.

Based in the United Kingdom on the Isle of Man, PokerStars quickly became the biggest online gaming business in the entire world.  Their annual profits were estimated at a staggering $500 million based on $1.4 billion of revenues. Of course, all of this did not go unnoticed by the Casino moguls out in Nevada who had said nay to the Internet option the year before.

Finally, in 2010, with Wynn out of the picture, the AGA was convinced by Loveman, who by the way owns the World Series of Poker brand, that Internet gaming could in fact be regulated and made to move to support online gambling… and the gaming world changed forever.

A serious effort was made in2010 by lobbyist from PokerStars and elsewhere to legalize online Poker in the USA… but that has yet to come to pass.

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