The seismic shift in the United States’ gambling culture continued last week as the American Gaming Association announced the addition of six new Board-level members. The six industry leaders include BMM Testlabs, Choctaw Casinos and Resorts, Golden Entertainment, GVC Holdings, Paddy Power Betfair and The Stars Group.
The lineup of new members signifies a great deal of change in mindset for the once-resilient association. The AGA is the largest casino-entertainment lobbying group in the U.S. and each of these new members will enjoy a level of voting power, meaning major gambling operators are now influencing American landscape.
The inclusion of GVC Holdings, Paddy Power Betfair and The Stars Group points to a noticeably pro-online gambling direction for the association which is particularly interesting given current events, namely the Supreme Court case that could strike down the federal ban on sports betting. Each of those three new members are licensed software providers in New Jersey, the state currently battling the NCAA.
The change in command made by the AGA from Frank Fahrenkopf to Geoff Freeman clearly played a major role in these inclusions as Fahrenkopf had made his thoughts on the Stars Group well known. He once called the Group “a business built on deceit, chicanery and the systematic flouting of US law,” but ended up turning over control to Freeman a month later. Freeman obviously employs a much more accepting tone to the “diversity” offered by the new members:
"More than ever before, AGA’s diverse membership reflects the broad interests of the casino gaming industry. Adding these six industry leaders will help our ability to serve as an effective advocate for the industry as a whole, and we’re excited to add their expertise to our Board."
The Stars Group is the well-known global provider of tech-based gambling products and notably the owner of major brands PokerStars, PokerStars Casino, BetStars and Full Tilt. GVC Holdings is a global sports betting and gaming group that operates within New Jersey through the bwin.party and owns another wildly popular and well-known online brand including PartyPoker and PartyCasino.
Paddy Power Betfair is a major sports betting operator that was created when the two bookmakers Paddy Power and Betfair merged creating the largest in the world. BMM Testlabs could also play a role in helping ease online gambling and sports betting into the American market.
BMM respected presence as a multinational gaming testing laboratory for over 36 years has provided a wealth of valuable data to gambling proponents. BMM Global president and CEO Martin Storm said the company is eager to add its influence to the AGA:
"We're excited to be working more closely with the AGA and its membership to help advance industry priorities like regulatory reform. As our industry seeks to learn more about these new opportunities, we look forward to educating key stakeholders including regulators, legislators, suppliers and operators across the global gaming landscape."
It’s no secret that online gaming is a global, profitable industry, but federal laws have kept its impact on the States incredibly restricted. With such big names in that industry now allowed to make their cases in the lobby group, there is reason for optimism amongst gambling aficionados.
It’s hard to envision online sports bookies and poker providers becoming full-fledged members of the AGA even a few years ago, and the fact that such grandiose decisions involving online gambling-centric businesses are being made signals changes amongst even the most staunch detractors of expanded gambling options in the U.S.