Friday April 19, 2013 : NEW AMERICAN GAMING ASSOCIATION CHIEF SPEAKS ON INTERNET GAMBLING
Freeman says he will seek to achieve consensus on legalization, and appears to favour a softer line
The new 38-year-old chief executive of the American Gaming Association, Geoff Freeman, appears to have come to the job with an open mind on internet gambling, telling the Associated Press news agency Thursday that he will seek consensus on the often controversial issue, which includes the question of support for federal or state-by-state legalization .
The Association's membership includes most of the large land gambling groups in the United States, and these have traditionally held differing views on what should be legalised – if at all – and how it should be achieved.
The Association has in recent years taken the position that only US online poker should be legalised, and that should be through federal rather than individual state initiatives.
However, repeated federal attempts at online poker legalization have failed, spurring individual states to go ahead with intrastate measures.
“We’re going to have to determine if the industry can get on the same page,” Freeman said Thursday, noting that achieving some sort of consensus would be one of his priorities.
Casinos no longer are just about gambling, and its lobbyists must also understand the travel and hospitality industries, the former travel industry executive said.
“Gaming is really taking on a broader image, and that’s the image of entertainment. It includes restaurants, shows, hospitality and lodging, and gaming,” Freeman explained.
A graduate of the University of California, Freeman worked for the health insurance lobby and the conservative Heritage Foundation earlier in his career.
He will remain based in Washington but will spend time meeting with casino executives around the country.
“I’m going to be ears open to just about anything that anyone has to say,” he said.