AGA Marks 20th, Identifies Key Issues

AGA President Geoff Freeman (l.) marked the organization’s 20th anniversary with a press conference/conference call identifying key issues facing the industry, and explaining why the organization has been so proactive under his leadership.

The American Gaming Association celebrated its 20th anniversary last week with a conference call in which AGA President Geoff Freeman outlined the major issues facing the industry this year.

After giving a nod to former AGA President Frank Fahrenkopf for developing the organization into the powerful lobbying arm of the industry it is today, Freeman identified issues such as misinformation about the industry, illegal gambling, iGaming and sweepstakes cafes as among the top issues facing casinos 20 years after the AGA was founded 1995.

Freeman lauded the progress made by the AGA’s “Get to Know Gaming” information campaign, which is designed to counter myths and misinformation concerning the gaming industry. “There simply hasn’t been anyone else filling the void, pushing back against misinformation,” he said.

However, by far the most prominent issue facing the industry, said Freeman, is the proposal by the Internal Revenue Service to lower the W2G reporting threshold for slot wins from $1,200 to $600.

Freeman reported that the AGA has had several meetings with IRS officials over the proposed action, for which the public comment period ended last week. He said AGA has met with “senior IRS officials” to advise of the damage the change would do to the industry and the tax revenues on which many states depend. “We’ve armed the industry to activate grassroots support, and today, one day before the comment period ends, nearly 13,000 casino customers from all 50 states engaged have signed a petition, commented directly to the IRS, or commented to their representatives by phone, on Twitter or on Facebook (opposing the IRS proposal),” he said. “This is what 21st century advocacy looks like.”

He added that AGA has received positive support on Capitol Hill in educating the IRS on the danger to the industry.

Meanwhile, the AGA sent a petition to the IRS outlining the dangers of the potential move. “The IRS could soon force casino guests to more frequently fill out paperwork, which would severely undermine the customer experience,” the petition said. “Further, this potentially burdensome requirement would cost states and cities tax revenues that pay for vital public services, such as teachers, firefighters and road improvements.”

According to AGA, the petition has received about 10,000 signatures, and about 3,000 comments have been filed with the IRS. The IRS is accepting comments until Tuesday.

Seventeen members of Congress also took aim at the idea of lowering the threshold in a letter to the IRS dated May 29. Nevada Reps. Joe Heck, Mark Amodei, Dina Titus and Crescent Hardy were among those who signed the letter.

“We strongly believe the IRS should not consider any reduction of this reporting threshold, as any lowering from $1,200 would have significantly negative impacts on casino operations and customers,” the letter reads. “Any reduction in this threshold would dramatically raise costs to comply, decrease gaming revenue due to more frequent slot machine ‘lock-ups,’ and greatly increase the burden workload for IRS.”

The day of the phone conference, AGA submitted its own formal comments to the IRS on behalf of the gaming industry, outlining the same potential problems.

“Given the myriad technical impediments to the proposals, the IRS should not mandate one-size-fits-all regulation on the diverse, complex U.S. casino gaming industry, but instead should work with industry to form a more reasonable solution,” the AGA commented. “Working collaboratively is important to the AGA and the casino gaming industry at large—we seek to work with the IRS to better understand and help achieve their goals.”

The IRS proposal attracted more than 2,600 comments at

Freeman commented that IRS officials have been cooperative and receptive to the organization’s counsel in the reporting threshold matter.