In a wide-ranging review of the current state of the gaming industry, American Gaming Association President & CEO Bill Miller said the priority of his organization in 2021 is accelerating the recovery of the gaming industry.
He outlined four areas where the AGA’s focus will be aimed this year:
- Securing additional Covid-19 economic relief for the industry through temporary liability protections, investment in travel and tourism, supportive tax policy, and additional tribal relief.
- Developing gaming champions on Capitol Hill and in the Biden administration.
- Blocking harmful policies and advancing specific reforms to enhance industry competitiveness.
- Using proprietary research and strategic communication efforts to ensure the gaming industry is heard.
As for the Covid relief, Miller was encouraged that gaming “got fair treatment” in the first bill.
“It was the first time we got that,” he said. “In other instances where businesses got relief, like (Hurricane) Katrina and the financial crisis, the gaming industry was always excluded. Not in 2020. We just want to be treated like everyone else.”
He attributed that willingness to include gaming in the relief package to the revival of the Congressional Gaming Caucus.
“This made the AGA a better advocate for gaming,” he said. “We saw the benefits quickly and we needed it.”
The AGA will deepen its outreach in Congress this year, as well.
“We have 44 new members of Congress from gaming states,” he said, pledging to educate them on the benefits gaming brings to their states. “If they understand our impact they are more likely to support our issues.”
He said gaming should take part in the new $1.9 trillion Covid relief package being proposed by the Biden administration. “We will make sure gaming is included in that package.”
He said saving jobs was one of the priorities of the AGA, along with seeking tax incentives to revitalize tourism and travel, as well as the revival of the meetings and conventions business.
He said the industry will remain engaged in federal issues and oppose anything that would derail the recovery. “We will opposes federal taxes or mandates,” Miller said.
The $1,200 slot tax reporting threshold will also be a priority.
“This was something that was established during the presidency of Jimmy Carter,” he said. “It’s long overdue to be updated and we want the government to review this administrative burden.”
The AGA won’t stop at the federal level.
“We will also be vigilant at the state level to ensure there are no increases in gaming taxes,” said Miller. “This is not the time to be targeting the gaming industry in states that are searching for more revenue. We paid over $10 billion to states in gaming taxes in 2019, and have overall higher tax rates than any other industry.”
The good news begins with sports betting, which is now legal in 25 states and the District of Columbia and accepted $21 billion in wagers in 2020. Miller says at least 12 new states will consider sports betting legislation this year.
“There are now 92 million people who can legally bet on sports in the United States,” he said.
He also pointed to the emergence of online gaming, which grossed $1.4 billion in 2020 and paid over $300 million in taxes.
The AGA will redouble its efforts with research and communication, said Miller. “We will make sure we are heard. We will make clear the link between local economic stability and gaming’s recovery.”