American Gaming Association Announces Leadership Changes to Casino Lobbying Group

Posted on: June 29, 2019, 03:00h. 

Last updated on: June 28, 2019, 12:11h.

The American Gaming Association (AGA), the leading casino lobbying group in DC, has announced several changes to its organization’s leadership, most notably three new senior vice presidents.

American Gaming Association Sara Slane
Sara Slane, seen here with ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt discussing sports betting, is leaving the American Gaming Association. (Image: Denise Truscello/Getty)

In a release, AGA President Bill Miller announced the departure of Senior VP of Public Affairs Sara Slane. The industry professional is resigning to form her own strategy firm that will advise interests involved in the emerging sports betting market.

Stacy Papadopoulos, senior vice president and general counsel, has accepted a position with the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which is where former AGA President Geoff Freeman went last year.

Miller says Dan Bretl will assume the role of senior VP of strategy and operations. Casey Clark will become senior VP of strategic communications, and Chris Cylke’s new title will be senior VP of government relations. All three promotions come from within the organization.

Miller explained, “These promotions recognize the contributions these three leaders have already made to our organizational and industry success, and their ability to lead functions that are fundamental to AGA being the best steward of our industry, and advocate for our members.”

Founded in 1994, the AGA lobbies on behalf of the gaming industry on federal legislation and regulatory issues. Its members include both commercial and tribal casino operators. A few notable companies are Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, Wynn Resorts, Penn National Gaming, and Seminole Hard Rock.

Sports Betting Champion

In June 2017, the AGA formed the American Sports Betting Coalition (ASBC) to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. Slane was instrumental in leading the effort.

Former AGA Chairman Jim Murren – the CEO of MGM Resorts – said in the firm’s Strategic Plan 2020 that the legalization of sports betting is a major issue for the association. Since the Supreme Court overturned the federal ban in May 2018, the lobbying group has been advocating for “sound policies” and “smart regulations” that allow the expanded gambling activity to thrive.

Slane was the face of the AGA after Freeman’s departure and prior to Miller’s incoming. She testified last fall before a House of Representatives’ Judiciary Subcommittee that an overly regulated legal sports betting framework would only allow offshore illegal sportsbooks to flourish.

She opined that the federal government shouldn’t impose an additional regulatory layer on sports betting, and instead allow states to govern the gambling activity if they wish. To date, Congress has stayed out of the matter.

AGA Leadership

The American Gaming Association’s guiding principle is to “accomplish for the industry what individual members cannot do alone.”

We serve as the industry’s champion in Washington, DC, and state capitals across the country,” the AGA explains. “We advocate on complex issues that individual members cannot change alone.”

Miller says this week’s leadership changes “reflect focus on advocacy and industry modernization.”

Miller is just the third president in AGA history. Frank Fahrenkopf served as its leader from its founding through 2013. Freeman held the reigns in the interim, and oversaw the Supreme Court’s historic sports betting decision.

The AGA board of directors is now chaired by Penn National CEO Tim Wilmott.