Bill Miller Assumes AGA President-CEO Role

Bill Miller Assumes AGA President-CEO Role

The American Gaming Association isn’t friendly with online gaming, or even online poker, for that matter. But the national – and internationally-recognized – trade group representing the American casino industry matters a great deal for the future of poker.

The AGA represents a casino industry worth more than $260 billion and consisting of approximately 1.8 million jobs. As the most powerful lobbying group for casino gambling in the US, it has tremendous power with everyone from businesses to lawmakers, from the local level all the way to the federal government.

As the group welcomes a new president, just naming Bill Miller to the role this week, it is important that the poker community keep eyes on future developments to see what it will mean for land-based and online poker, as well as the entire gambling industry.

Six-Month Search

In the first week of June 2018, Geoff Freeman announced that he was stepping down from his position as AGA President and CEO at the end of July. His five-year stint with the organization led him to take a position with the Grocery Manufacturers Association, leaving the AGA on the hunt for a replacement.

The group then appointed Caesars Entertainment chief Mark Frissora to lead the search for that person who would take Freeman’s position, while Stacy Papadopoulos (AGA General Counsel and SVP of Industry Services) served as the interim CEO of the AGA. Penn National Gaming CEO Tim Wilmott also took a leading role in the search, as a part of the seven-member committee.

Several months later, in mid-December, the AGA made its announcement. The AGA’s Board of Directors decided that Bill Miller would serve as the organization’s new president and chief executive officer.

Who is Bill Miller?

Miller will be assuming the new position on January 14, 2019.

His most recent position was as the senior VP of government relations for Business Roundtable, a lobbying group consisting of chief executive officers of major US corporations that collaborated to influence public policy in favor of businesses. Miller helped grow that organization and its level of influence in Washington, D.C. He also served as the head of political affairs and federal relations, as well as the national political director, for the US Chamber of Commerce.

The powerful lobbyist began is career with a law degree from American University and a chief-of-staff job with a Republican congresswoman – Constance Morella – of Maryland from 1994 to 1999.

With several decades of lobbying experience under his belt, Miller’s selection for the AGA was no surprise. He had been the leading candidate for the AGA CEO position for some time, with numerous credentials that prompted a great deal of support from the search committee and elsewhere in the gaming industry.

CDC Gaming Reports broke the story about one week before the announcement was official, noting that his diverse background and extensive D.C. experience made him the top pick for the job.

AGA Matters to Poker

It goes without saying that the AGA is important in the role of live poker throughout the United States. As a lobbying organization for the casino gambling industry, the issues for which the AGA fights often affect casinos that include poker rooms.

Traditionally, however, the AGA has not been a friend of internet poker. There was no mention of internet gaming whatsoever in its mission statement or code of conduct for years, but when the group finally included a small blurb about online gambling in its code in 2017, it was a sign that the lobbying group was more open to the internet version of the industry than ever before.

And in early 2018, the AGA welcomed six new board-level members, three of which were prominent members of the online gaming community. While the opening of the AGA’s doors to GVC Holdings, Paddy Power Betfair, and The Stars Group likely spoke more to the anticipation of the sports betting industry’s growth in America than anything else, the move was important. The voices of those online gaming groups in the conversations at the AGA could mean more representation going forward.

This has yet to play out in any noticeable way, but it seems that 2018 was mostly a transformational year that ended with the appointment of Miller to the top spot.

 

 

About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

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