REMARKS: American Gaming Association’s Geoff Freeman Addresses East Coast Gaming Congress & NextGen Gaming Forum

Freeman: Sports betting a major growth opportunity for gaming

Press Release | 05.25.2017

Washington, DCAmerican Gaming Association (AGA) President and CEO Geoff Freeman today addressed the East Coast Gaming Congress & NextGen Gaming Forum to highlight the industry’s continued unification as well as growth opportunities through regulatory reform and sports betting. Read an excerpt of Freeman’s remarks below and find his full speech here.

We see sports betting as a major opportunity for gaming and a top priority for the AGA.

At last year’s conference, I outlined our strategy for reversing the federal ban on sports betting. 

This year, we’ve moving from strategy to action – laying the foundational principles for sports betting reform and setting an ambitious timeline for achieving our goal.

We’re moving forward on four key fronts: 

First, AGA is defining the sports betting opportunity.

Americans bet nearly $160 billion on sports in 2016: 97 percent was bet illegally.

Two facts are pretty clear from this data: 

  • Americans love to bet on sports and the federal government’s ban on sports betting is a total failure. 

Second, we’re executing a strategy to drive perceptions, build alliances, and lay the groundwork on Capitol Hill. 

Component 1:  We’re developing compelling, original research to educate stakeholders about public attitudes toward sports betting and the opportunity it presents. 

Component #2:  AGA is building alliances among the key stakeholders we’ll need to overturn the sports betting ban. 

Component #3:  Give congressional champions on Capitol Hill a convincing, concrete legislative proposal.

The third front is to unite the gaming industry behind a core set of principles for creating an open, transparent, regulated sports betting market.

Earlier this year, AGA proposed a set of principles to guide policy discussions about a new sports betting law.  Our core principles include:

  • Empower the states. Let states determine the desirability and regulation of sports betting, just as we do with all forms of casino wagering;
  • Integrity. Ensure the integrity of sports betting and sports through state licensing and regulation;
  • Transparency. Make all sports betting businesses transparent to law enforcement; and
  • Competitive taxation. Ensure any tax regime does not undermine regulated sports betting operators’ ability to compete against illegal, offshore operators.

Fourth and finally, AGA is developing an ambitious timeline over the next 12 to 36 months for drafting legislation – moving it through Congress – and putting it on the president’s desk

To build on our current momentum, our goal is to use the rest of 2017 to develop consensus legislative language among key stakeholders and to launch a broad-based coalition to spearhead this effort.

At the same time, we’re identifying potential champions in Congress to take the lead on congressional hearings and introduce a bill later this year or early in 2018.

Nothing happens quickly in Congress.  There are many major issues still on the table – from health care to tax reform to infrastructure. 

Nevertheless, I’m optimistic we can get a bill to the White House well before the 2020 elections. 

Read Freeman’s full remarks here.

About AGA: The American Gaming Association is the premier national trade group representing the $240 billion U.S. casino industry, which supports 1.7 million jobs in 40 states. AGA members include commercial and tribal casino operators, suppliers and other entities affiliated with the gaming industry. It is the mission of the AGA to be the single most effective champion of the industry, relentlessly protecting against harmful and often misinformed public policies, and paving a path for growth, innovation and reinvestment.

 

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