AGA’s Bill Miller gets candid about major gaming industry issues

During the American Gaming Association presentation on the State of the Nation this week, AGA President and CEO Bill Miller offered additional comments to the press about all facets of the industry beyond the major financial milestones. When asked about some of the struggles or criticism the industry has faced recently, Miller remained optimistic that, in the greater scheme of things there have been “very few hiccups” overall.

Miller lauding the customer transition from the offshore market

“Now the majority of American adults have a legal option and I think that’s something to be really excited about. Look, there’s always going to be an evolution as a nascent industry gets off the ground, and I think that we’ve seen some of those, but I think it shouldn’t overshadow what has been a remarkable migration from the illegal market, which existed for decades into the legal market in 37 states,” Miller said.

Unsurprisingly, Miller regularly mentioned this migration from the illegal market several times. The AGA has been very focused on bad actors in the space over the past year, ranging from a letter to the Department of Justice to regularly releasing research about its economic impact.

Advertising and promotional credit is necessary for legal market to thrive

Given the AGA’s priority to weaken the black market, Miller was supportive of some measures that have drawn criticism, such as promotional credit deductions.

“If you’re going to move people from the illegal market to the illegal market, there’s a couple of things you really need to do,” Miller said. “One is offer a legal product, pass sports betting, and then two is offering it at a tax rate that will move people from the illegal market, offshore market into the legal market. And one of the ways you do that is with advertising.”

Create advertising and you know, the fact that advertising and promotional deductions was a component, that was important to move people from the illegal market. So we think that that is absolutely the right thing to do. We’ve also seen it level off. We’ve seen as these markets have matured, that the ad spend in the sports betting space has reduced over time, and we think that that would likely be the case if Texas were to move that way,” Miller answered when asked specifically about the online betting bill proposed in Texas.

Miller reacts to federal bill and national media criticism

Miller also said he wanted the AGA to generally be hands-off as lawmakers and operators negotiate the specifics of state bills, but he did acknowledge the organization did have a stance on Rep. Paul Tonko’s proposed federal sports betting advertising ban.

“Our interest is to get in there, see what his concerns are, see what his office’s concerns are, making sure that he understands how we are approaching sports betting and why advertising is so important to move people from the illegal market into the legal market. And so we look forward to that dialogue,” he said.

Finally, Miller elaborated on how the AGA is viewing some of the voices in mainstream media criticizing the industry, including the series of profiles in the New York Times. He pointed to the proactive launch of the Have a Game Plan program as examples counter to the narrative that the industry is running unchecked.

“My view was with some of that reporting, it was reporting that was pre-baked. And I disagreed with much of the premise of some of that reporting,” Miller began.

“All you have to do is look across the pond to Britain, and to Italy, to Spain to other places where the industry has not recognized the importance of introducing legal sports betting and my view is that we have gotten that right so far, notwithstanding some of the people that are critical of the industry writ large or critical of the fact that sports betting is now legal.”