Currently in his 5th year as President and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA), Geoff Freeman is pioneering a more active, engaged, entrepreneurial model for representing industries in Washington, DC and in state capitals across America. Freeman’s approach to leading associations for industries facing complex issues centers around inclusivity, uniting members behind a common set of priorities and aggressively pursuing policy opportunities through strategic communications, modern-day government relations and compelling research campaigns.
At AGA, Freeman has created a next-generation trade association that has reshaped the narrative around gaming in America and opened new pathways for industry growth. Based on his conviction that perception drives policy, Freeman launched a multi-year, research-driven advocacy campaign to demonstrate gaming’s broad support among Americans across the political spectrum and the industry’s role in promoting economic growth, job creation and tax benefits in the 40 states where gaming is legal.
This campaign generated the tailwinds that are helping to drive AGA’s signature initiative under Freeman’s leadership – legalizing sports betting. While sports betting has grown in popularity, federal law currently prohibits betting outside Nevada. Freeman saw an opportunity to overturn this ban and create a significant new market opportunity for AGA members. To achieve this goal, AGA developed and implemented a three-part strategy aimed at building support among lawmakers at the federal level for overturning the ban; working with policymakers and regulators at the state level to pave the way for sports betting; and emboldening legal efforts to challenge the ban, which culminated in arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court (“How Geoff Freeman and the AGA Led the Gaming Industry to the Supreme Court”). To help drive the sports betting initiative, AGA created a unique coalition of law enforcement officials, sports leagues and local elected officials. Known as the American Sports Betting Coalition, this group is leading the argument that legal, open, regulated sports betting is a better alternative to a federal ban in terms of protecting game integrity, aiding law enforcement in fighting illegal betting and generating tax revenues for local communities.
In the past, AGA’s impact was constrained by the highly competitive nature of member companies. Freeman has succeeded in both diversifying and uniting AGA members behind a set of issues that offer industry-wide benefits. In the process, AGA’s membership has expanded by 200 percent and association revenue nearly doubled. Moreover, Freeman has developed an association value proposition that effectively engages CEOs and dozens of others within member organizations.
Prior to joining AGA, Freeman served as Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Travel Association. During that time, Freeman helped conceive and drive a legislative campaign that resulted in the passage of the Travel Promotion Act (the “industry’s biggest legislative victory in a decade” according to Travel Weekly). This new law led to the creation of Brand USA – a public-private partnership that has helped the U.S. travel industry capture a larger share of the lucrative international travel market. In the aftermath of 9/11, Freeman created a Blue Ribbon Panel headed by former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to analyze how to improve travel security without compromising travel efficiency. The effort led to the creation of the TSA Pre Check program – a hugely popular initiative that allows more than one million Americans to use expedited security screening at the nation’s airports. Both the Travel Promotion Act and TSA Pre Check demonstrate Freeman’s ability to identify industry opportunities, craft a winning policy solution and drive advocacy campaigns that succeed in gaining broad support among key stakeholders.
Freeman’s previous experiences include public affairs firm APCO Worldwide, mortgage giant Freddie Mac, powerful health insurance lobby the American Association of Health Plans (now known as America’s Health Insurance Plans) and The Heritage Foundation.
Freeman is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. He resides in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and three children.