A good night for the industry – and the AGA By Jeffrey Compton November 5, 2014 at 4:56 pm “A good night for the industry” said an email I received from AGA President Geoff Freeman sometime around 11:15 p.m. Tuesday night. And he is right: Election Day was a good night for the gaming industry. The best news is that the repeal effort in Massachusetts was overwhelming defeated. Except for the tonier towns in the Berkshires (Lenox, Stockbridge, Great Barrington) and those surrounding Boston (Cambridge, Somerville, Wellesley), the repeal effort failed – and failed big. Boston residents voted against repeal by 10 percentage points – with even Revere (site of the passed-over Suffolk Downs/Mohegan casino) voting against repeal. The question is settled, the answer is clear – casinos are on their way into the Bay State. Gaming expansion issues also passed in Tennessee, South Dakota, Kansas, and South Carolina – all by wide margins. The Newport Casino table game expansion issue passed in Rhode Island, but unfortunately failed in Newport, something required for “passage.” The two gaming expansion issues that did fail, in California and Colorado, not only did not have total industry support but had established casinos fighting the proposed expansions. It was also a good night for the American Gaming Association. After a few initial missteps and then having the (iGaming) rug pulled out from under them, Freeman and company have seem to found their footing (to continue the bad metaphor) as evidenced by their excellent presentation (and related affirmative publicity) in Pennsylvania last week, as well as their very positive contribution to the Massachusetts result. At a Wednesday morning press conference Freeman said that is it not the AGA’s mission to push for more gaming in various municipalities or states – that is for the local communities to decide. What is the AGA’s task is to make sure that the pro-gaming side of the story (more jobs, more entertainment options, more revenue) is properly told – and that common anti-gaming myths (increased crime, increased personal bankruptcies – or my favorite, less money for cities and schools because of lost lottery sales) are debunked. I could not agree more! Much of the “arsenal” (videos, statistics etc.) used by the AGA in Massachusetts (and by other members of the industry, including MGM Grand) was prepared as part of the organization’s “Get to Know Gaming” effort. Personally I don’t think the timing of the G2KG campaign and the expected Massachusetts Repeal ballot initiative were any coincidence – but appearing to use already familiar materials (as opposed to ads fresh from “the war room”) gave the pro-gaming effort even more credibility Someone asked me today, “Now that the election is over what is the AGA going to do next?” That is for Freeman to answer, but the anti-gaming myths are still there, the over-regulation and over-taxation are still there – so I am sure that there is plenty to keep the organization busy. (A personal recommendation: A new effort to better show the value of the AGA to the non-member sections of the gaming industry). And finally, how did the CDC Gaming Report 2014 Election Contest go? Other than wishing that a few more folks participated (we had about 60 in the contest), I think the “voters” did quite well. Sarah Regan (coincidentally our New England gaming political adviser) was the only person to pick all six issues correctly (the Nebraska question was removed when the state courts ordered it off the ballot). Fourteen participants got five picks correct, including Ken Adams and Aaron Stanley. Roger Gros, Howard Stutz, I, and 20 others got four correct. The most common correct pick was South Dakota. The most common incorrect prediction was Rhode Island (which did pass statewide, but failed in Newport). Several participants told me about wonderful thank-you notes they received from Noah’s Animal House for their relatively small contributions. “I give ten times that amount to a local charity”, said one donor, “and I have never received such a note from them.” Noah’s Animal House had a good night too and seems well on the road to creating more.