AGEM Board of Directors Actions – April 2020
- Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, AGEM held its first fully remote monthly meeting on April 14 with more than 100 members dialing in for the conference call. President Luke Orchard told members that in these unprecedented times, AGEM intends to remain an important resource for the industry and will still be dealing with issues that affect the supplier segment of the industry. The officers are talking at least twice a week to discuss any updates or progress. In addition, Executive Director Marcus Prater is representing AGEM on twice-weekly calls hosted by Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairwoman Sandra Morgan, along with casino and restricted license representatives. Morgan has stated she stands ready to assist if AGEM members have any Nevada regulatory concerns during this crisis.
- AGEM members were informed of the sad passing of Robert (Bob) McMonigle, who will be remembered as a driving force behind the founding of AGEM in 2000, and as the organization’s first president through 2005. While at IGT, Bob collaborated with arch-enemy competitors at Aristocrat, Bally and WMS to help create AGEM and bring all of the gaming suppliers together for a common good. That spirit lives on today, perhaps more than ever, given the circumstances of the current situation. Bob made his mark at IGT as arguably the greatest slot salesperson ever, commanding 70 percent market share in jurisdictions throughout the U.S., but he also helped elevate other gaming companies until the end, and was the representative at AGEM meetings for Associate Member Rising Digital until his untimely passing. Bob will be missed, but he will not be forgotten. A celebration of his life has been delayed until the current crisis passes.
- With the closure of all casinos in the U.S., the fight against unregulated gaming machines has taken on an even more important role as players may be tempted to turn to these machines instead. AGEM and the American Gaming Association recently released a fact sheet designed to help combat the spread of unregulated machines in multiple markets throughout the U.S. There has been some success with Utah and Wyoming both signing bills addressing machines in their states. Missouri and Pennsylvania were initially allowing play even when the casinos closed due to the pandemic, but these too have now shut down. Virginia approved an outright ban, but the governor kicked it back to the state regulator to tax the machines to raise funds for the Covid-19 effort. This short-term mistake could lead to long-term problems for the regulated industry, but AGEM and the AGA will continue to work together to highlight these issues.
- Will Wise, vice president of Reed Exhibitions, addressed AGEM members at the recent monthly meeting to update the situation regarding G2E Asia and G2E Las Vegas. The Macau show has already been pushed back once to the end of July from its original dates in May, but even the new dates are now seen as untenable due to the spread of Covid-19 globally and continuing lockdowns. Both the AGA and Reed are committed to G2E Las Vegas, and Wise reiterated they are working to support the industry and understood that it will not be “business as usual” once the lockdown is eased.
- AGEM members approved contributions for two sponsorships at the April meeting. The 13th European Conference on Gambling Studies and Policy Issues due to be held September 8-11 in Oslo, Norway will receive €1,250. Even though the AGEM-AGA Golf Classic presented by JCM Global has had to be canceled, AGEM will provide the main benefactor of the event, the International Center for Responsible Gaming, with a donation of $12,500. Both donations reflect the newly approved fiscal year budget that has shown a 75 percent reduction due to the suspension of AGEM dues and other reduced income. In an effort to support its members due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the unprecedented challenges the gaming supplier industry currently faces, AGEM made the decision to suspend the collection of 2020 fiscal year renewal dues from existing members (that was scheduled to begin April 1) until further notice.
The AGEM Index decreased by 156.39 points in March 2020 to 312.52 points, a 33.4 percent decline from February 2020. Twelve of the 13 AGEM Index companies reported significant stock price declines as global markets reacted to gaming industry shutdowns, historic unemployment claims, and a widening economic freeze due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The stock price for Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ASX: ALL) dropped by 35.5 percent, accounting for an 83.03-point decrease in the AGEM Index, while Crane Co. (CR) experienced a 27.6 percent stock price drop that led to an index contribution of negative 20.32 points. All three major U.S. stock indices decreased as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 experienced monthly declines of 13.7 percent and 12.5 percent, respectively. The NASDAQ also experienced a drop of 10.1 percent.