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Not Horsing Around

Jessica Feil, Senior Director of Government Relations, American Gaming Association

Not Horsing Around

Growing up outside Philadelphia, Jessica Feil practiced the art of riding and showing horses. Her career has taken twists and turns, but she still rides and shows horses when time permits.

“It’s a great sport that you can participate in at any level throughout your life,” she says.

Horses are a constant in a life that brought her on a circuitous route to the American Gaming Association, where she works as the senior director of government relations.

Armed with a degree in government from Skidmore College, Feil joined a boutique communications and public policy firm, performing tasks like tracking media coverage, working on advocacy campaigns, and even ordering office supplies.

“Tracking coverage was a great way to learn about different topics and policy matters that impacted the clients’ business,” she says.

After graduating from law school at Case Western University, Feil worked as a prosecutor dealing with child abuse and neglect.

“You see families during their toughest times, including emergencies that impact the safety of children. On the other hand, it was really powerful to help families when they needed it most,” she says.

Feil’s first brush with gaming occurred at Ifrah Law in Washington. While much of her time involved criminal defense, gaming offered an interesting sidebar, she says. “My practice grew in the gaming space because I enjoyed being part of such an innovative and fast-paced industry.”

Prior to the AGA hire, Feil earned a certificate in sports betting regulation at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“With all the changing laws as legalized sports betting spreads across the country, it’s been fascinating to follow the different regulatory models put in place,” she says. “And the certificate provides a great foundation of knowledge.”

With the AGA, Feil oversees state policy discussions. This includes monitoring legislative activity that may affect the casino industry, identifying areas where the association can support policies, and leveraging research.

“I provide regular legislative and regulatory updates,” she says.

The AGA tracks a number of gaming issues, and sports betting is among the more significant.

“We monitor updates in states that are working to legalize sports betting, and once a state passes legislation, we keep an eye on implementing regulations,” Feil says. “With each state taking a slightly different strategy, it’s essential to stay up to date on the different models in place and how that is impacting the gaming industry in each state.”

When she joined AGA, Feil jumped into roles outside her comfort zone. She learned the importance of taking the time to ask the right questions of the right people to understand how to be effective in each role she faces.

She gives kudos to government affairs attorney Barbara DeMarco and GGB COO Becky Kingman-Gros for their support along the way.

“Having friends who are willing to share their knowledge of the industry and be a sounding board has been invaluable. It’s been meaningful to me to have people I can go to with questions and speak candidly with about working in gaming,” Feil says.

The most important piece of advice Feil can give is to learn something new outside your daily work experience.

“This is a complex business, and people are open to sharing their experiences and knowledge if you ask. You can learn something new every day, even if it’s not immediately relevant to your work at that moment.”

She still considers herself a newbie at the AGA.

“I’m learning so much,” Feil says. “When I started on my career, I did not expect to end up working in gaming. But now that I am, I really enjoy it. I hope to keep working in this industry, advocating for companies and sensible public policies that will help the industry grow while ensuring a safe and fun environment for customers.”

Bill Sokolic is a veteran journalist who has covered gaming and tourism for more than 25 years as a staff writer and freelancer with various publications and wire services. He's also written stories for news, entertainment, features, and business. He co-authored Atlantic City Revisited, a pictorial history of the resort.