Outgoing AGA Chief Geoff Freeman Says Gaming Going ‘Mainstream’ Critical to Lobbying Efforts

Posted on: June 17, 2018, 08:00h. 

Last updated on: June 15, 2018, 01:38h.

American Gaming Association’s (AGA) Geoff Freeman says transforming the overall perception of the gambling industry is vital to lobbying DC lawmakers.

Geoff Freeman AGA casino sports betting
Geoff Freeman wants his successor at the American Gaming Association to advocate for the continued mainstreaming of the casino industry. (Image: William Petroski/The Register)

Appearing at this week’s East Coast Gaming Congress at Harrah’s Atlantic City, Freeman said removing the negative stigmatisms of casinos will entice politicians into pushing laws that are more favorable to operators.

“Don’t discount the power, the significance of policy makers wanting to be closer to what we now have: a mainstream industry,” Freeman explained, as reported by CDC Gaming Reports.

“The more mainstream we are, the more likely we can achieve mainstream policies. Let’s capitalize on that,” Freeman concluded.

Freeman became just the second CEO of the AGA in 2013. He announced his resignation earlier this month to accept a position heading up the Grocery Manufacturers Association. He’s remaining with the AGA until August 1 to assist in the transition.

The AGA is currently seeking its next chief lobbyist.

Curtain Call

Freeman’s tenure heading up the casino industry’s most prominent lobbying group in DC was a success. The AGA managed to convince the IRS not to lower the gambling tax threshold on slot machines from $1,200 to $600, as it proposed in 2015.

Freeman’s reign also oversaw the implementation of online gambling in Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey.

But unquestionably, his biggest accomplishment was the Supreme Court’s 6-3 judgement last month that the longstanding sports betting ban was unconstitutional. The repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 allows states to now decide whether they want to allow sports betting to take place within their jurisdictions.

“The AGA accomplished many important successes during Geoff’s tenure, most notably the recent Supreme Court ruling … that paves the way for legalized sports betting in the US,” Penn National Gaming CEO and AGA Chairman Tim Wilmott declared.

Wilmott says the Grocery Manufacturers Association decision to hire Freeman is a credit to the evolution of the casino industry. “It is a testament to our industry, as well as to Geoff himself, that GMA would look to gaming as a model for managing through dynamic change and complexity to achieve success in both policy and perceptions,” Wilmott concluded.

Sports Betting Mandates

In a letter to federal lawmakers following the PASPA decision, Freeman detailed five priorities the gaming industry will pursue in regards to sports betting.

Empower State Regulation: Freeman says states have proven they’re more than capable of regulating gaming without assistance from the US government.

Consumers First: The AGA supports strong consumer protections and conveniences such as intrastate mobile wagering, with the goal of eliminating underground bookies.

Game Integrity: Freeman believes “rigorous sports betting regulation strengthens game integrity,” and supports a “national data repository to share suspicious betting information.”

Responsible Gaming: Freeman encourages states to implement programs that help those prone to developing an addiction to betting on sports.

Contracts Over Statutes: The AGA says sports betting can benefit leagues and gaming companies, and supports the two sides reaching contracts to resolve their differences. The AGA opposes federal or state legislation that seeks to interfere with that process.