AGA sets out key objectives as US gaming embarks on road to recovery

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Following a call to the US gaming industry last week to join together in a concerted recovery effort, the American Gaming Association (AGA) has set out its vision regarding the part the sector can play in helping get the economy back on track. 

Summarizing the damage inflicted on the sector, the association said in a statement: “Our dynamic industry came to a standstill in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic indiscriminately hurt gaming businesses, employees, and communities. All 989 commercial and tribal gaming properties shut down and sportsbooks went dark, decimating demand for gaming suppliers’ innovative products. 

“For several months, these closures cut off a major economic driver in communities across 44 states, severely impacted one million American gaming and small business workers, and cost the economy an estimated $105bn in lost economic activity. 

“As we welcomed customers and employees back, the gaming industry led the way for responsible reopening by implementing strict safety protocols, adhering to evolving state and local health regulations, and investing millions of dollars in innovative solutions to promote health and safety.” 

America’s economic recovery – and that of communities across the country – can be accelerated with a thriving gaming industry, said the AGA. As the voice of the US casino gaming industry, the association is singularly focused on one goal, accelerating gaming’s recovery. 

Outlining its 2021 priorities to bring about a return to a thriving economic engine for communities across the country, the AGA noted four main objectives. The first is to secure relief and recovery for gaming in COVID-19 Legislation. This will involve ensuring gaming inclusion in federal COVID-19 economic relief legislation, fighting for tax deductions, liability protections for responsible operators and flexibility for tribal nations to spend CARES Act funds and increase reimbursement for unemployment benefits costs. 

The second objective is to develop new champions to promote gaming’s recovery by engaging with every member of Congress from gaming states and all decision makers in the Biden administration and growing the bipartisan Congressional Gaming Caucus. 

Thirdly, the AGA seeks to block harmful policies and advance specific reforms to enhance industry competitiveness by defeating federal attempts to enact new taxes, restrict resort fees, or promulgate new mandates. Moreover, it said it will promote efforts to responsibly expand the legal sports betting market and protect sports betting against federal intervention and regulation.

Lastly, the AGA said it will use proprietary research and strategic communication efforts to ensure the gaming industry is heard by delivering original research products that provide unique insights into gaming industry impact. It will also showcase industry commitments to health and safety measures that are protecting communities, customers, and employees and highlight the industry’s commitment to responsible gaming.

The plan is underway, with the AGA already having written to Congress to underscore the difficulties facing the industry and its willingness to work constructively with policy makers during this challenging period for the nation.

President and CEO Bill Miller wrote: “As our country emerges from this pandemic, I am confident gaming’s role as a significant economic engine and job creator will aid in our nation’s recovery. A recovery that will be enhanced by additional federal relief to support the nearly 1,000 commercial and tribal casinos, gaming manufacturers, and other affiliated businesses decimated by the pandemic.”