The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the American Gaming Association (AGA) have announced the agencies will join forces to combat illegal online gambling, specifically focused on sports betting where users can place bets on a credit-based system.
In a bid to “disrupt and dismantle criminal enterprises through prosecution and forfeiture,” the Internet Sports Book initiative was launched by the FBI in August. Following suit, the AGA announced on Tuesday that it would promote the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) to aid the FBI in its efforts. The IC3 is intended to allow any individual to submit complaints and tips regarding online crimes, anyone, regardless if they’re an unaffected third party victim or a direct victim of the crime, is able to use the online tool.
The partnership with the AGA enables the IC3 to utilize it to combat “transitional organized crime groups that use illegal gambling, most notably internet sports gambling, as a means to finance other forms of violent and illicit activities,” according to the deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigation Division, J. Chris Warner. American Gaming Association’s CEO Geoff Freeman said the partnership between the FBI and his group would help achieve “significant headway in the fight against illegal gambling.”
The AGA called illegal gambling a “pernicious form of venture capital investments” and “the mother’s milk” that helped fuel “a host of violent criminal enterprises,” and in April declared war on it. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was invited by Freeman to join the AGA’s Stop Illegal Gambling – Play it Safe Initiative (pdf). Illegal sports betting, internet sweepstakes cafes, black market gaming machines and unauthorized online gambling are the four key areas the initiative focuses on.
Editors note: In August the FBI’s focus was on offshore internet sportsbooks that offer credit to their customers, as those sort of operations are mostly facilitated by organized crime groups. The AGA has taken a more aggressive stance over the last year to work with law enforcement officials in an effort to stem the losses of licensed operations, including tax revenues. In April the gaming advocate called on members of the National Association of Attorneys General to join the AGA, and in June formed an advisory panel to help law enforcement agencies develop strategies to put an end to illegal gambling.