AGA Lines Up Aggressive Agenda for 2015

In 2014, the evolution of the gaming industry—and of the American Gaming Association—was never more apparent. Through the lows of Atlantic City and the highs of Massachusetts, the AGA served as a passionate champion for the gaming industry. We are growing more inclusive of new players, more transparent about our initiatives and more communicative with gaming stakeholders in the United States and around the world.

It was a year of many firsts, including our recent announcement of “By the Book,” a first-of-its-kind resource that allows policymakers, regulators and journalists and many others to compare commercial gaming regulations for each state. This unique tool aggregates and explains the regulatory and statutory requirements for the gaming industry in five key areas: regulatory oversight, licensing, taxation, responsible gaming and integrity.

We also created the first, forward-looking set of Best Practices for Anti-Money Laundering Compliance that reflect our industry’s commitment to a strong culture of compliance. These best practices—the result of more than a year of work by industry experts and developed in coordination with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)—guide the efforts of casinos to protect the U.S. financial system and our national security from money laundering and other forms of illicit finance.

Our work on anti-money laundering efforts, however, is just getting started. We look forward to further bolstering our partnership with FinCEN to prevent money laundering and protect the integrity of the U.S. financial system.

Furthermore, we released a groundbreaking economic impact research that was conducted by Oxford Economics to provide the most comprehensive look at the vast, positive impact of gaming in the United States. For the first time ever, the study measured the economic impact of every facet of the casino gaming industry—commercial casinos and manufacturers and Native American casinos—as well as the industry’s significant ripple effect on the supply chain, including local businesses.

Oxford’s study found that the U.S. gaming industry contributes $240 billion—nearly a quarter-trillion—to the U.S. economy, which is equivalent to the total state budgets of New York and Texas combined; supports more than 1.7 million jobs—more than double Washington, D.C.’s total employment—and nearly $74 billion in income; and generates $38 billion in tax revenues to local, state and federal governments—enough to pay more than a half-million teachers’ salaries.

We’ve known for a long time that our industry’s contributions have gone underestimated, but these numbers were even bigger than we anticipated, and they will help us bolster our partnerships with policymakers in communities across the country.

With 2014 behind us, we have an aggressive agenda lined up for 2015 that will continue to bring the industry together. We will focus on three key areas, the first of which is an expansion of the “Get to Know Gaming” campaign. This effort will graduate to the next level, and we will build off the strong economic data produced this year to focus on the people of the industry. In doing so, we will place a face on the jobs in gaming so policymakers understand the value of those who work in the gaming industry.

A second area of sharp focus is exposing and eliminating illegal gambling, which is rampant across this country. Internet sweepstakes cafes, or cyber cafes, are illegal, unregulated operations that siphon millions of dollars in gaming revenue from legitimate, licensed operators across the country. It’s time to shut them down.

You can’t look at illegal gaming in this country and ignore the vast amount of sports betting. The issue is generating increased interest, which was evident by National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver writing an op-ed on the topic in November. The industry will examine the subject in the coming weeks and months to determine the best path forward.

Our third area of focus will be the development of, and advocacy for, “Next Generation Gaming Policy.” The AGA will work with regulators, policymakers and members to promote innovation and reinvestment in the gaming industry, as the regulations and policies that brought the casino industry where it is today are not the policies necessary to promote reinvestment and innovation in the future.

These are just a few items we’re working on for 2015. Gaming is an incredibly complex industry that continues to evolve, and the AGA will continue to push for policies that encourage innovation, reinvestment and job creation.

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