AGA chief Fahrenkopf to leave in June

Frank Fahrenkopf Jr, the long-time head of the powerful representative body for US casinos, the American Gaming Association, has announced he is to stand down at the end of June.

President and CEO Fahrenkopf, the only leader the Washington-based lobbying group has had since being founded nearly 18 years ago in July 1995, will stay on as a consultant to the AGA until the end of 2013 to ensure a smooth handover to his yet-to-be-identified successor.

He said that his main mission upon appointment had been to redress the dominant perception of the gaming industry in Washington and the rest of the country – which he said “was based more on myth than reality” – by bringing the real facts about the industry to the public, elected officials, other key decision makers and the media.

Bally Technologies chairman and current chair of the AGA Richard Haddrill said Fahrenkopf had been “a steady, thoughtful leader through a period of great change for our industry”.

The AGA highlighted its “tremendous successes” under his leadership, saving special mention for its establishment of the National Center for Responsible Gaming, “the positive findings and recommendations of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission” and the success of the trade shows Global Gaming Expo and G2E Asia.

Fahrenkopf however departs in the wake of US Congress yet again failing to consider federal internet poker legislation, the Reid/Kyl bill the AGA was supporting on behalf of its members. He told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he had been “disappointed” but not surprised by this outcome, saying it was “a tough sell”.

The organisation, whose members have historically been divided on the issue, only declared itself “open to the concept of legalised online gambling” in March 2010, a change of position that arguably owed more to shifting the goalposts in terms of no longer requiring unanimity on the issue among its membership.

The US Department of Justice’s December 2011 clarification that the 1963 Wire Act only outlawed the transmission of interstate (cross-border) wagers for sports betting cleared the way for online poker to be legalised within Nevada and Delaware last year. New Jersey governor Chris Christie is also considering a bill to authorise Atlantic City casinos to offer versions of all their games online.

The 73-year-old Fahrenkopf has always publicly supported a federal, poker-only approach to the legalisation of online gambling in the US, arguing that the state-by-state approach would result in a complex and costly patchwork of regulations for operators.

Article written by Stephen Carter

Casino Choice journalist

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