My first six months as head of the American Gaming Association was a time to listen and evaluate. As I settled into my new role, I wrote several times in these pages about developing our future goals and what changes we could expect in the months ahead.
What resulted was, in large part, a promise to take an aggressive new approach toward articulating the value that our industry has for customers, employees, communities and the economy. We are fortunate to start from a position of strength, based on the success of the AGA since its founding in 1996. Now it’s clear that we need to adapt in order to have the right organization for the future.
Now, with the new year fully under way, I’m eager to share with you some of the ways the AGA is moving full speed ahead to deliver on that promise. These exciting new changes are significant first steps toward becoming an organization that is prepared for the new realities of the gaming industry.
A keystone of this aggressive approach is growth—on many fronts:
As an industry, we must work together to protect ourselves from harm and promote our agenda. With that in mind, we recently announced the addition of Wynn Resorts, Station Casinos and Churchill Downs Inc. as new AGA member companies. I believe this is merely the start of a growth in membership we’ll see in the coming years—and it’s a big step toward creating the unified front we’ll need as we expand. As we rise above past differences to champion the industry as a whole, growth in membership only makes us stronger.
Growth isn’t limited to the boardrooms or Las Vegas. Here in Washington, we’ve made significant additions to the AGA staff, with talented and energized team members who—together with the powerful group already here—have the experience with gaming, trade associations and on Capitol Hill that’s needed to emphasize our new, proactive, campaign-style approach to telling the positive story of gaming.
From lobbying and outreach to research and on-the-ground activities, we now have even more support for where we need to go. Reaching our goals as we expand and play offense to advocate for the gaming industry won’t be easy, but we have the right group in place to help drive innovation and economic growth.
Every industry has differences of opinion, and we’re fortunate to be in an industry that has far more to agree on than disagree on. Breaking the inaccurate stereotypes associated with gaming is one area in particular where AGA will focus its efforts. The best way to shift inaccurate perceptions is by shedding light on the everyday examples of our industry’s commitment to leading innovation, to educating our customers on responsible behaviors and to bettering the local communities where our businesses operate.
This is the start to the type of broad-based advocacy that will propel our industry through this year and beyond.
Lastly, our Global Gaming Expo events in Las Vegas and Macau have long been the premiere conferences in gaming; their success is a perfect example of the truly global nature of our industry. Not long ago, we announced a move to make G2E even larger, as we’ve partnered with Union Gaming to launch a conference event in Japan, should that country pass its recently submitted Integrated Resort Acceleration Legislation bill. If Japan moves forward with legalizing casino gaming, it is poised to be one of the world’s largest markets—and G2E will be at the forefront of that growth.
There’s more work to be done, but I’m proud to say that 2014 is already becoming a year for delivering on our promises. I look forward to sharing even more of them with you moving forward. And as I’ve said before in these pages, we can’t do it alone, so I’m excited for you to join us as we continue to relentlessly champion the cause of gaming.