Bill Miller, President and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA) has delivered a comprehensive round-up of the year’s big developments and aired his thoughts on what the association will be hoping to achieve in the coming year. 

Describing 2019 as a tremendous year for gaming, he thanked the leadership of a united industry, the commitment of AGA members, and a reorganized, high-performing AGA team for achieving important victories while laying the groundwork for strong momentum in 2020. 

He said: “In my first year as the AGA’s president and CEO, we established clear goals that guided our efforts throughout 2019 and will drive our work in the year ahead. Over the last year, we made significant investments in developing and sustaining industry allies at all levels, creating political leverage to advance gaming’s priorities with policymakers.

“In 2019, we worked diligently to reestablish the Congressional Gaming Caucus, which was officially activated in November and will be announced publicly early in the new year with more than 30 Congressional champions. 

“We continued to pursue our Get to Know Gaming campaign, holding events in Las Vegas, Maryland, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma in conjunction with new Casinos and Communities reports measuring the economic and social impact gaming delivers for each state. These efforts deepened partnerships with policymakers, small business owners, nonprofit organizations, and other stakeholders who will champion gaming’s success in communities across the country.”  

Miller added that the AGA has strengthened its impact in Washington. “Through aggressive outreach and communications, we successfully blocked attempts to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain; stopped legislation to restrict resort fees; and preserved state regulation of sports betting. 

“We also bolstered our relationship with FinCEN and the Treasury Department by hosting our third-annual AML Summit and releasing updated AML Best Practices for sports betting expansion and mobile gaming. We continued to work with our allies on the Hill to highlight the impact of the antiquated slot tax threshold and the need to modernize it through regulatory and legislative action.”

Turning to sports betting, Miller stated: “Today, close to 20 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized sports betting, reflecting tremendous growth since the Supreme Court overturned PASPA just over 18 months ago. The AGA held off threats to reintroduce federal sports betting legislation by educating congressional members and staff and arguing (successfully) for continued regulation by the states.

“On the one-year anniversary of the PASPA decision, the AGA and its members pledged to uphold responsible marketing practices through a new code of conduct. The code holds the industry accountable for respecting the legal age for sports betting; supports responsible gaming; extends responsible practices to digital marketing and promotion; and establishes a process for monitoring compliance.”

According to Miller, the AGA also promoted effective state sports betting regulation by convening AGA Regulator Roundtable meetings with gaming regulators from two dozen states. “In coordination with AGA members, we provided expert testimony at state regulatory hearings, produced original research, and promoted sensible policy principles,” he said.

Media activity has also been to the fore, as Miller explained: “Through aggressive media relations, proprietary research, and a breadth of strategic positioning activities, the AGA ensured a well-informed environment surrounding the proliferation of legal sports betting, reflecting industry positions and protecting opportunities across the country. 

“In December, we launched a white label advertising campaign, encouraging consumers to Bet Responsibly. Ads are now featured in Washington’s Capital One Arena with plans to expand throughout 2020.

“We will continue making the case for effective, state-based regulation to promote rational sports betting policies and a thriving marketplace. And we will broaden responsible marketing efforts beyond the gaming industry by seeking to hold broadcasters, leagues, and media companies to the same strict standards we apply to ourselves.”

In conclusion Miller said: “These accomplishments took place amidst a major reorganization of the AGA’s staff, a change in AGA leadership, and the launch of a new, modern AGA website. I could not be more grateful to AGA’s members for giving us such incredible support or proud of the AGA team for the accomplishments we achieved. 

“Working together in 2020, we’ll continue to advance these priorities, maintain a focus on eradicating the illegal market, support American gaming interests in emerging markets, and continue to enhance the G2E franchise.”