The International Casino Conference (ICC), which opens the ICE VOX programme of learning and networking, will feature keynote addresses from some of the most influential figures in the gaming industry, including Geoff Freeman, President and CEO of the American Gaming Association. Ahead of his appearance at the ICC, which is taking place at London’s Hippodrome Casino on Monday 6th February, ICE VOX caught up with Mr Freeman to ask his opinion on international gaming collaboration, engaging with pressure groups, his views on ICE Totally Gaming and what the AGA thinks about having a casino operator as the 45th President of the United States.
You are speaking at the International Casino Conference, part of ICE VOX – what topics/themes are you intending to cover?
I look forward to providing an update on the U.S. gaming industry, including how the incoming Trump administration will affect gaming.
Do you consider it a plus to have a casino operator as President of the United States?
As we build on the success of 2016, the incoming presidential administration and new Congress present unique opportunities and potential challenges. In both areas, we will be aggressive and clear in advocating for what is best for gaming and our customers. AGA is eager to work with the Trump Administration and we’ve sent a memo to the Trump transition team detailing policy issues critical to gaming’s success. In the letter, we detailed how the AGA seeks to build a public policy environment that is conducive to reinvestment and innovation – two essential elements of a successful entertainment product.
How important do you think it is for the various international trade association heads to meet and exchange ideas either formally or informally?
We find great value in meeting with our association peers and are developing deeper ties, particularly with the European Casino Association. We have many opportunities throughout the year to gather and discuss the latest issues for the industry. The best examples of this are G2E Las Vegas and G2E Asia as well as great opportunities at ICE.
The AGA, under your leadership, has been working hard to position gambling as a mainstream activity enjoyed by everyday people; how has that campaign progressed and what does success look like in your opinion?
Our Get to Know Gaming public affairs campaign highlights how the industry serves as a strong community partner everywhere we operate. We’re proud to be an industry that drives $240 billion in economic activity, supports 1.7 million jobs and generates $38 billion in tax revenue. Through events with our members, community leaders and a growing bench of allies in Congress, we’ve highlighted the real benefits of the gaming industry in places like Philadelphia, Detroit, St. Louis, Biloxi and elsewhere. We’re excited to continue this across the United States in 2017 through a soon-to-be-announced program as part of the Get to Know Gaming campaign.
You have been to ICE on a number of occasions – are you a fan of the event and what are you looking to achieve?
ICE is a great showcase for gaming companies and a good way to strengthen our ties with a diverse group of industry leaders. I’ve been to ICE several times now and look forward to it each year. The opportunity to learn from sports betting experts from the European market, which is a much more mature one, is invaluable. We look forward to providing a timely update, especially after the presidential election, on where the industry stands in the U.S., and to learn as much as we can. And we’re always striving to be as informed as possible on what’s happening in the industry, as that makes better advocates.
Do you believe in putting the hard hat on and engaging in debate with anti-gambling pressure groups or is it best to deny them the oxygen of publicity?
We’re happy to have a conversation with anyone. Gaming has a great story to tell. In city after city across the United States before gaming was approved, opponents of casino gaming made claims about the industry’s impact that fail to materialize. In fact, most critics end up supporting us once they see the many benefits we bring as strong community partners.
The new look International Casino Conference is an integral meeting developed in collaboration with the ECA to understand the macro-movements of the global casino market. The 2017 event will take a strong focus on emerging markets across Europe, Asia and the US with operator insight from Caesars, Hard Rock International and Casinos Holland. For the first time, the ICC will also delve into social issues such as diversity and inclusion, local economic impact and responsible gambling. Delegates wanting to find out more about ICE VOX, the new learning brand which has replaced ICE Conferences, can download the brochure and agenda which provides details of the eight paid-for learning modules, comprising The International Casino Conference; World Regulatory Briefing; Cross-Platform & Multi-Channel Gaming; Modernising Lotteries; Data Science & Personalisation; BetMarkets; Cybercrime Security and Regulatory Compliance in Gaming, and Game Design and Development, at icetotallygaming.com/icevox.
To attend ICE Totally Gaming visit icetotallygaming.com.