MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren is stepping down as chairman of the American Gaming Association (AGA) and handing over the reins to colleague Tim Wilmott, the Penn National CEO who’s served on the lobbying group’s board since 2015.
Time for Change
In a press release issued this week, AGA President Geoff Freeman said the trade group’s board of directors elected Wilmott to a two-year term, which will commence in the beginning of January. Jim Murren served two terms as AGA chairman, having been first elected to the position in 2014.
Murren said he’s “immensely proud” of the progress the American Gaming Association has made over the last few years in conveying to DC politicians the importance of supporting the casino industry. The MGM boss said gaming is a “crucial economic engine of the US economy.”
Neither the AGA nor Murren commented on whether he wished to step down, or if the organization as a whole felt a new chairman was in its best interest. Regardless, Murren will have plenty on his plate to keep him busy.
Murren’s company is just a month and a half out from the October 1 shooting that took place at MGM’s Mandalay Bay property. Additionally, he sits on the board of trustees of the Brookings Institution and Howard University, and on the National Infrastructure Advisory Council. Murren also chairs the University of Southern Nevada’s Leadership Board, and is a member of the CEO Business Roundtable.
Wilmott’s Penn National Gaming began as a regional gaming operator in Pennsylvania, but today has grown to include 29 gaming facilities in 17 states. It became a Las Vegas Strip operator when it acquired the Tropicana in 2015, and also owns the M Resort casino at the far south end of Las Vegas Boulevard.
Penn National was quick to criticize the Pennsylvania General Assembly and Governor Tom Wolf (D) after a wide-reaching gambling expansion package was recently signed into law. The gaming operator has said it’s considering all of its legal options.
The AGA is the leading lobbying organization in DC working to support laws that benefit the gaming and casino industry. AGA members include commercial and tribal casino operators, gaming manufacturers and suppliers, and other entities invested in the industry.
Through its political action committee, the AGA seeks to establish relationships with elected officials to help bring its vision for the future of gaming into focus.
The lobbying entity’s number one goal over the past year has been the legalization of sports gambling. The AGA says at least $150 billion is wagered illegally in the US each year.
In June, the AGA formed the American Sports Betting Coalition (ASBC) to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), the federal law that keeps sports gambling banned in all but four states. Recently, the AGA wrote the US Supreme Court a brief stating its opinion that the high court should repeal PASPA when it considers the law next month.
The AGA announced in late October that the Fraternal Order of Police has joined the ASBC. The Fraternal Order is the largest organization of law enforcement officers, with over 330,000 members across the US.