AGA: Washington Needs to Recognize Gaming’s Contributions

AGA: Washington Needs to Recognize Gaming’s Contributions
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Like many these days, the gaming industry has its sights set on Washington.

During his opening remarks Tuesday at the Global Gaming Expo — held virtually this year rather than in Las Vegas because of COVID-19 concerns — American Gaming Association president and CEO Bill Miller discussed how it was critical that gaming no longer be treated as less than a full member of the American economy by those in power.

it was time, he suggested, that gaming’s contributions to the country’s employment health and to governmental budgets be recognized. Miller made his point about what he hopes to be gaming’s future treatment in Washington by referring to the recent past when all 989 casinos in the U.S. were shut down during the pandemic lockdown, and businesses across the country were in need of financial relief from the federal government.

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At first, gambling businesses were dealt out.

“During past natural or man-made disasters, the federal government explicitly excluded gaming from economic relief. When other industries were offered a helping hand, gaming was given the cold shoulder,” Miller said.

That continued this year when the pandemic brought the casino industry to a standstill.

“We saw this when the Small Business Administration tried to exclude gaming from the Paycheck Protection Program,” Miller said. “We didn’t back down. Rather, we came together with one voice to successfully pressure the SBA to treat gaming businesses the same way every other small business in America was being treated.”

Gaming is ’Pillar of Communities’

Congressional gaming allies, such as Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Matos (D), the keynote speaker at G2E, and others pressed the gambling industry’s case and financial help eventually made its way to businesses and employees in dire need.

“We made the case that gaming was a pillar of communities all across America,” Miller said. “That our workers should be entitled to the same compassion as millions of others. That small businesses depending on gaming should not be allowed to fail.”

With gaming finally getting the type of help it had previously been denied, Miller vowed, “we will never accept discriminatory treatment from Washington again.”

“Our broad support among the American people, our resilience, and our unity — position us to hit the ground running after the November election, regardless of which party wins the White House or controls the Congress,” Miller added.

AGA’s Top Priorities

The AGA executive said that the revival of the Congressional Gaming Caucus will be counted on to help press the overall industry’s top priorities, such as:

  • Ensuring that gaming is included in additional recovery assistance.
  • Liability protections — so gaming businesses that follow public health guidelines do not face lawsuits.
  • Tax relief to preserve jobs, offset COVID-19 expenses, and encourage travel.
  • Push to help tribal nations that rely on gaming.
  • Work to lessen regulatory burdens, such as adjusting the slot tax reporting threshold and repealing the sports betting excise and head taxes.

Miller said that gaming has earned its stripes as a dependable economic contributor and should be recognized for it, and nowhere was the industry’s commitment to the common good more on display than at the height of the pandemic lockdown and in the effort to come back from that financial body blow.

“As one of America’s most highly regulated industries, we already adhere to strict operating standards,” he said. “Working closely with regulators and government partners, we enacted some of the nation’s most stringent health and safety protocols, allowing us to responsibly re-open and stay open.”