- AGA president’s speech highlights many successes for casino and betting industry
- Describes 2016 as the industry’s ‘most monumental year’
Atlantic City hosted the East Coast Gaming Conference week last month and audience members get a pep talk they weren’t quite expecting. While they knew Geoff Freeman, president of the American Gaming Association (AGA), would be speaking, they had no idea how much of a buzz his speech would create.
Freeman boldly declared that 2016 had been ‘the most monumental year in gaming industry history’, following a number of newsworthy events. He cited the Oakland Raiders’ relocation to Las Vegas, as approved by the NFL, the approval of a Vegas NHL franchise and the election of Donald Trump, a former casino owner.
Freeman went into some detail about why Trump was highlighted, saying that even though Trump attracted criticism for the bankruptcy of his Atlantic City casinos, the fact that he was elected shows that more voters aren’t concerned about his association with casinos.
Freeman also spoke of sports betting, which is currently legal in just four states: Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon. He said that if it were to be made legal in all fifty states, the bets alone could be worth around $8 billion – he’s confident this will happen and mentioned how efforts are being made to get members of Congress to see this as a consumer protection issue.
2019 was mentioned by Freeman as a key year when more states may begin legalizing sports betting.
Resort fees and taxes
There had been rumours that resort fees were going to be banned, though these were put to rest, according to Freeman. The AGA has, in fact, received a minimal number of complaints regarding the fees, which are worth around $500 million just on the Las Vegas Strip.
As for taxes, Freeman highlighted the fact that last year, the Internal Revenue Service decided against lowering the winnings threshold at which point a casino has to file relevant tax information from $1,200 to $600 – Freeman said this threshold should be raised to $4,800 in 2017, a move which he said would save casinos millions of dollars in costs.