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BILL MILLER INTERVIEW


so that also piqued his interest. Miller remembered Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas Sands from his days at the US Chamber. With his vast background in commerce and government


affairs, Miller understood the needs of business and industry to successfully transition to the AGA. Though sometimes stressful, Miller feels he is more than up to the challenge of heading the organisation. He knows his way around Capitol Hill after working with legislators and representing private sector businesses in Washington for three decades. A native of Bethesda, Maryland, Miller holds a B.A. degree


from the University of Maryland and a law degree from American University. He remained on the Washington side of the Potomac – where he still lives – after law school. Miller worked for longtime Representative Constance A.


Morella, the congresswoman who represented his hometown Maryland district. She held the seat from 1986-2002. Miller first served as her campaign manager in 1990 and then rose to become her chief of staff from 1994 to 1999. “Congresswoman Morella was a moderate Republican in a Democratic district adjacent to Washington,” he says. Miller’s career is full of achievements and accolades, but to name a few more, he lobbied for the US Chamber of Commerce’s Political Affairs & Federal Relations efforts as National Political Director. He executed political and grassroots operations on many critical issues facing the business community during his 12-year tenure. A successful entrepreneur, Miller has also launched several businesses, including a bank, restaurants, a television pilot and financed several technology start-ups. “I was the point person for 2,600 state and local chambers of commerce and 600 trade association executives who were mostly based in Washington,” Miller states. With so much diverse expertise, how could he doing


anything but succeed? After his whirlwind five-month initiation into gaming, Miller has drawn three distinct conclusions about the industry’s top issues. First is the need for a consistent industry commitment to


expand sports betting as a major part of the gaming portfolio. Miller believes there is so much growth opportunity to reach out to greater mass audiences. The second key element is for community leaders to fully


understand the potential of gaming’s increasing popularity. Studies show that 80 per cent of the public approves of casino gaming as acceptable adult entertainment. Public perception has never been more favourable, as people want to view gaming operators as responsible community partners. Miller says, “Our industry members have put in place safeguards that promote a responsible code of conduct for advertising. We also have added protections for voluntary exclusion and against underage gambling. We have learned from the Europeans to get ahead of the regulators and target the industry only to adults. No one has more at stake to get it right than the gaming industry itself.” According to the latest AGA statistics, commercial gaming


revenues have topped $41.7 billion in 2018. When the figures for tribal gaming are added in this fall, that total could reach above $75 billion. “Revenues are up in 22 of 24 commercial gaming states.


Currently, 41 states offer commercial or tribal gaming,” says Miller.


He encourages all companies to be good neighbours within their own communities and use their popularity to leverage it into political strength. The AGA’s “Get to Know Gaming” program travels across the US to provide more information to specific regions. The “Casinos In Communities” initiative is a personal, hands-on effort that involves discussions with business leaders unrelated to gaming and the mayors of these jurisdictions. It is more difficult to work against someone after a personal one-on-one conversation. “There will always be some who want to portray gaming on the dark side. This industry has the best record of hiring those living in underserved and underprivileged neighborhoods. We have to do a better job of telling our great story and emphasising the facts. Gaming has evolved into an economic engine within more than one jurisdiction. Communities are built because of economic hubs like factories, colleges or, in these most recent years, casinos. There are no company towns without the company. Gaming offers opportunity to small businesses and the service industry,” affirms Miller. He acknowledges that economically challenged regions need help because it is difficult to relocate many residents who often find it too emotional to leave. In Indian Country, where economic devastation has persisted for generations, Miller cites amazing improvements. He describes Oklahoma Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker saying that his people can stay in place because gaming has enabled the tribe to sustain its financial independence. Miller will continue the inclusion and encouragement of tribal gaming that began years ago under his predecessor Geoff Freeman. Miller has already spoken at the April National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) convention in San Diego. He assured Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr., a member of Wisconsin’s Oneida Nation, and other NIGA leaders that the AGA’s support for tribal gaming remains constant. As Miller sees it, the third major issue confronting gaming is modernising the monetary systems used. Miller knows this remains a controversial issue with many prominent industry leaders who prefer the status quo of cash processing in casinos. He believes gaming is behind the curve because so many other major industries involving cash transactions use other forms of payment and currency. “I am astounded that we are the only cash business left.


Unfortunately, electronic payments are not welcome on the gaming floors. Modern monetary systems enable the creation of more limits that helps consumers ensure they gamble responsibly. “I want to determine what the AGA can do to help. Cash is


expensive because of the costs to count, transport or secure it. Electronic systems are much easier, cheaper and will benefit the industry for the next generation of players.” When signing his new contract, Miller did not anticipate


the exciting path that leading the AGA would take so quickly. He has welcomed that education and involvement and looks forward to what the future has in store.


You can read part two of Sharon Harris’s interview in the August edition of Casino International.


JULY 2019 43


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