Dear AGA Members and Industry Partners,
This has been a tremendous year for gaming. Thanks to the leadership of a united industry, the commitment of AGA members, and a reorganized, high-performing AGA team we achieved important victories while laying the groundwork for strong momentum in 2020. In my first year as the AGA’s president and CEO, we established clear goals that guided our efforts throughout 2019 and will drive our work in the year ahead.
Building stronger industry influence at the federal, state, and local level
Over the last year, we made significant investments in developing and sustaining industry allies at all levels, creating political leverage to advance gaming’s priorities with policymakers.
- Created new gaming champions. In 2019, we worked diligently to reestablish the Congressional Gaming Caucus, which was officially activated in November and will be announced publicly early in the new year with more than 30 Congressional champions. We continued to pursue our Get to Know Gaming campaign, holding events in Las Vegas, Maryland, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma in conjunction with new Casinos & Communities reports measuring the economic and social impact gaming delivers for each state. These efforts deepened partnerships with policymakers, small business owners, nonprofit organizations, and other stakeholders who will champion gaming’s success in communities across the country.
- Strengthened our impact in Washington. Through aggressive outreach and communications, we successfully blocked attempts to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain; stopped legislation to restrict resort fees; and preserved state regulation of sports betting. We also bolstered our relationship with FinCEN and the Treasury Department by hosting our third-annual AML Summit and releasing updated AML Best Practices for sports betting expansion and mobile gaming. We continued to work with our allies on the Hill to highlight the impact of the antiquated slot tax threshold and the need to modernize it through regulatory and legislative action.
- Bolstered resources to support congressional allies. The AGA PAC is an important tool to develop relationships with federal lawmakers and help ensure they return to Congress. While we faced early challenges with our fundraising efforts in 2019, I am pleased that we were able to finish the year strong with a successful PAC dinner featuring three U.S. senators from gaming states, Sen. Capito (R-WV), Sen. Young (R-IN), and Sen. Gardner (R-CO), that raised $62,800. In total, we raised more than $95,000 for the PAC this year, which will provide critical resources to continue to build allies in the coming election year. Building the PAC will continue to remain a top priority in 2020, and I would encourage you to reach out to Brandon Leggiero for more information about the PAC or to make a contribution.
In 2020, we will build on these successful efforts by expanding the Get to Know Gaming campaign to include more direct engagement with members of Congress and their gaming constituents, aggressively advocating for industry priorities on the Hill, growing our PAC, and expanding our roster of champions in Congress and within federal agencies.
Ensuring sports betting’s success
Today, close to 20 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized sports betting, reflecting tremendous growth since the Supreme Court overturned PASPA just over 18 months ago.
- Defended against federal intervention. The AGA held off threats to reintroduce federal sports betting legislation by educating congressional members and staff and arguing (successfully) for continued regulation by the states.
- Established the Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering. On the one-year anniversary of the PASPA decision, the AGA and its members pledged to uphold responsible marketing practices through a new code of conduct. The code holds the industry accountable for respecting the legal age for sports betting; supports responsible gaming; extends responsible practices to digital marketing and promotion; and establishes a process for monitoring compliance.
- Engaged state regulators. The AGA promoted effective state sports betting regulation by convening AGA Regulator Roundtable meetings with gaming regulators from two dozen states. In coordination with AGA members, we provided expert testimony at state regulatory hearings, produced original research, and promoted sensible policy principles.
- Informed the public discourse. Through aggressive media relations, proprietary research, and a breadth of strategic positioning activities, the AGA ensured a well-informed environment surrounding the proliferation of legal sports betting, reflecting industry positions and protecting opportunities across the country. In December, we launched a white label advertising campaign, encouraging consumers to Bet Responsibly. Ads are now featured in Washington’s Capital One Arena with plans to expand throughout 2020.
We will continue making the case for effective, state-based regulation to promote rational sports betting policies and a thriving marketplace. And we will broaden responsible marketing efforts beyond the gaming industry by seeking to hold broadcasters, leagues, and media companies to the same strict standards we apply to ourselves.
Modernizing our industry’s ability to do business
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 AGA initiated an industry effort to advance payment choices for customers, from debit cards to digital payments.
- Conducted foundational research. The AGA led a state-by-state landscape analysis of payment regulation to identify barriers to near-term implementation of payment choice. We also produced qualitative research to understand customer views and preferences regarding digital payments. These efforts provide a roadmap that will prioritize the industry’s payments advocacy strategy in 2020.
- Forged industry consensus. The AGA convened industry leaders who confirmed the potential market opportunity and developed principles to promote state policies that encourage payment choice, protect consumers, and keep pace with customer expectations.
In the coming year, the AGA will support industry efforts to educate key stakeholders and equip members with data and research to pursue the payment choice opportunity in states.
Enhancing AGA member value
At the AGA, we always push ourselves to enhance the value we provide our members.
- Showcased our industry at signature events. In 2019, the AGA hosted the best-attended Global Gaming Expo ever with 27,000 attendees joining gaming leaders from around the world. We also convened the first Sports Betting Executive Summit, an exclusive gathering of top sports betting executives to discuss the expansion of legal, regulated sports betting in the U.S.
- Repositioned responsibility. The AGA expanded the definition of industry responsibility beyond responsible gaming to broadly reflect our commitment to our customers, employees, and the communities where we operate. The AGA released the first-ever report detailing the industry’s total contributions to communities through volunteer initiatives and charitable support. With the Responsible Gambling Collaborative, we created principles to enhance the effectiveness of responsible gambling policies and industry practices. The Collaborative will release the principles at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS) winter meeting in January.
These accomplishments took place amidst a major reorganization of the AGA’s staff, a change in AGA leadership, and the launch of a new, modern AGA website. Our efforts earned recognition by winning several awards, including being named to Washington’s Top Lobbyists of 2019 by The Hill.
I could not be more grateful to AGA’s members for giving us such incredible support or proud of the AGA team for the accomplishments we achieved. Working together in 2020, we’ll continue to advance these priorities, maintain a focus on eradicating the illegal market, support American gaming interests in emerging markets, and continue to enhance the G2E franchise.
I wish all of you a terrific holiday season and a Happy New Year.
All the best,