The American Gaming Association has named long-time lobbyist Bill Miller as its new chief executive officer.
Miller, a senior vice president at Business Roundtable, was the AGA’s leading candidate after a four-month executive search.
More on the new head honcho at the AGA
The AGA’s board of directors voted to confirm Miller on Dec. 17. As a result, Miller will become the group’s third CEO in its 23-year history.
The AGA began its search after former CEO Geoff Freeman resigned. Freeman left to become CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association in July 2018.
Miller’s role at Business Roundtable has been to act as the organization’s main delegate to Capitol Hill and the White House. Business Roundtable is a coalition of CEOs for large US companies.
Before Business Roundtable, Miller worked for 13 years at the US Chamber of Commerce. He served that organization as national political director and was the point person for various lobbying campaigns.
Miller also served as chief of staff for a member of Congress in the 1990s. He has a law degree from American University and did his undergraduate work at the University of Maryland.
AGA needs Miller’s extensive political experience
With Miller’s appointment, the organization will gain an experienced lobbyist with deep political ties and contacts. However, given the arc of gaming’s present course, a political operative is exactly what the AGA needs at its helm.
After the demise of PASPA in May 2018, gaming found itself thrust into the political spotlight. The Supreme Court‘s decision that placed the decision about sports betting in the hands of states was both a decisive win for gaming interests and a stunning rebuke of federal power.
Unfortunately, federal lawmakers do not take rebukes of their authority lying down.
Congressional members are already quite busy trying to find ways to ban or regulate sports betting.
Congress +AGA + sports betting
From the outset on May 15, one day after the Supreme Court’s ruling, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has sought to pass a federal sports bill to create standards for the practice.
Of course, Hatch’s intentions are suspect, given that he is a staunch opponent of all forms of gambling and was one of PASPA’s chief architects.
Hatch found an unlikely ally for his position a few months later. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Senate Minority Leader, proposed a federal framework that incorporated many of Hatch’s suggestions.
The framework created a rather heavy-handed regulatory scheme for sports betting that all but guaranteed difficulty and corruption.
Schumer, whose constituency includes the headquarters of all four major sports leagues, also included the odious integrity fee as part of his suggestion.
These discussions culminated in a September hearing of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigation.
The hearing, entitled “Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America,” featured testimony from different stakeholders in the matter, including the AGA’s own Sara Slane.
Unfortunately, Slane found herself sharing time with people diametrically opposed to any gambling. The committee heard testimony from such people as Les Bernal, director of Stop Predatory Gambling, who told lawmakers that gambling itself is nothing more than a con.
Inaction from feds on sports betting
The hearing concluded with the committee’s chairman, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) stating that the worst outcome from Congress would be inaction.
He repeated this thought two months later when asking the Department of Justice for an opinion about the Wire Act‘s jurisdiction over sports betting.
Notably, no sports betting language has made its way into other legislation, yet. But word came today that that could change:
Senators Orrin Hatch and Chuck Schumer expected to introduce federal sports betting bill this afternoon.
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) December 19, 2018
So in today’s landscape, it’s no surprise that the AGA felt that the vacant CEO position required a heavy hitter like Miller, especially as sports betting takes center stage perhaps federally and in the states.