January marks my one-year anniversary as the American Gaming Association’s president and CEO. It’s been quite an amazing year. On my first day, the Department of Justice announced its reinterpretation of the Wire Act, and from there, the pace never slowed, and the industry never ceased to impress.
I spent much of 2019 traveling, listening, and learning. Every conversation, from Macau to London, from Nevada to Pennsylvania, painted a clear picture: gaming is a modern industry, an economic powerhouse, and a committed community partner.
One of my favorite parts of this job is visiting gaming communities across the country through our Get to Know Gaming campaign. I’ve met dozens of business owners, elected officials and community leaders who shared their unique stories of how gaming has positively impacted their lives. Translating this positive sentiment into greater political influence will be core to what AGA does in 2020, as we relaunch the Congressional Gaming Caucus for the 116th Congress with more than 30 representatives.
Over the past year, the country has seen the benefits of legal, regulated sports betting firsthand. That’s motivated even more states to join the 20-plus jurisdictions that have legalized sports betting as legislatures come back into session. The AGA stands ready to serve as a resource for states considering establishing legal frameworks, and will continue advocating for policies that protect consumers and attract bettors away from the dangerous and pervasive illegal market.
Looking back, we pushed hard to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in the first place because we believed legal, transparent, regulated wagering would disrupt the predatory, illegal, offshore market. The AGA brought together a broad coalition of law enforcement officials, political leaders, regulatory experts and other stakeholders to push for PASPA’s repeal. Now, we plan to reinvigorate that coalition to continue our work to stamp out illegal gambling and raise the bar on responsible gaming.
While gaming’s popularity grows and our public support rises, we remain forced to operate in a financial environment that has not changed in decades. To help provide our customers with the same seamless experience on the casino floor that they enjoy throughout our properties, the industry is exploring ways to advance payment choices for customers, from debit cards to digital payments. The AGA will continue to support industry efforts to educate key stakeholders and equip members with research to pursue payments choice in states.
I can honestly say that I’m more excited about this job today than when I started a year ago. I could not be more grateful to AGA’s members for giving us such incredible support, or prouder of the AGA team for the accomplishments we achieved.
As the AGA celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2020, we will continue our work to advance these priorities, and accomplish for the industry what individual members cannot do alone.