American Gaming Association

AGA Names Bill Miller as New President and CEO

The American Gaming Association’s search for a new president and chief executive officer has ended with the naming of Bill Miller to the trade association’s helm. Miller, formerly the senior vice president of the Business Roundtable (BRT), was named to the post this week, following a search-and-selection process undertaken by the AGA’s board of directors.

The AGA’s seven-member board had been on the hunt since June for a replacement for outgoing president/CEO Geoff Freeman. Freeman, a career lobbyist, announced his resignation in June from his role at the AGA, which remains the US casino industry’s largest and most important lobbying group, but has been neutered on important topics such as online gambling due to deep divisions within its member-casino ranks.

AGA LogoMiller takes over that internal lobbying gridlock when he arrives at the AGA’s offices next month. In the process, he’ll become only the third person to serve as president of the AGA in its nearly 24-year history. Former Republican National Committee Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf from its 1995 inception until his retirement in 2013. Freeman, Fahrenkopf’s replacement, served over five years in the role before moving on to a similar post at the Washington, DC-based National Grocers Association. The AGA also credits executives Stacy Papadopoulos and Sara Slane with keeping the AGA running smoothly through the lengthy transition period.

Incoming AGA president/CEO Miller is crediting with helping to grow the Business Roundtable’s brand and advocacy footprint in Washington, leading the association’s outreach to Capitol Hill and the Administration.

“I am honored to join a team with a well-earned reputation for advancing the casino gaming industry’s legislative and communications priorities and addressing the issues that matter most to its members,” said Miller, according to an AGA announcement. “Much to the AGA’s credit, this is a remarkable time for gaming in America. The industry is growing, acceptance of gaming as mainstream entertainment has never been higher and the opportunities to continue to advance gaming’s agenda are abundant. I am eager to help lead the industry in this next era.”

“Bill’s extensive work with federal policymakers and as a seasoned leader of membership and industry advocacy organizations was critical to our decision,” said Penn National Gaming CEO Tim Wilmott, the chairman of the AGA’s board and the leading figure in the search for a new president. “[Miller] joins a successful organization at a time when our industry is enjoying great momentum, thanks in part to a major policy achievement – the ending of the federal sports betting prohibition. On behalf of the AGA Board, I am excited to welcome Bill to the team.”

Miller also worked for the US Chamber of Commerce in addition to his role with BRT. Both of those organizations represent broad-based business interests, and Miller, with the AGA, will have to adapt to a tighter, more specialized focus. While the online-gambling brouhaha pitting the single largest funder of the AGA (Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands, Inc.) against the majority of other AGA companies has been a major wound, it’s certainly not all bad news for Miller. The AGA’s member casinos sit front and center at the opportunity for continuing growth for legalized sports betting across the US.

As the press statement about Miller’s hiring notes, “The May 2018 Supreme Court ruling overturning the federal ban on sports betting was a landmark policy achievement for the industry. Revenue grew in twenty states with commercial casinos in 2017 and the commercial gaming industry as a whole brought in $40.3 billion in gaming revenue, while tribal casinos tallied $32.4 billion in total gaming revenue.” Billions of dollars’ worth of business opportunity lurks just below those words, and it becomes Miller’s task to focus the AGA’s path amid these expanded opportunities.

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