AGM President Bill Miller talks about NJ sports betting, online and smoking in casinos

Bill Miller, Chairman and CEO of the American Games Association, was a keynote speaker at East Coast Gaming Congress this week at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City. The two-day convention features some of the gaming world’s top decision makers, discussing the industry’s most important issues and its future. Even a declaration of state of emergency because of bad weather did not prevent New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy to appear, albeit virtually.

After his opening speech Tuesday morning, Miller sat down for an exclusive one-on-one interview with Play NJ to talk about legal sports betting, online gambling, Atlantic City and smoking in casinos.
Here is the full transcript of Bill Miller’s interview with minor edits to the questions and answers for clarity.

Q: New Jersey sports betting just hit a big milestone with a monthly $ 1 billion and a record monthly revenue as well. What can other jurisdictions learn about the New Jersey sports betting market?

Bill Miller: Well, I think number one, New Jersey was the most prepared state after PASPA. So when the (US) Supreme Court ruled on PASPA, New Jersey was operational. I think Delaware might have beaten New Jersey by about a week. But, in the end, New Jersey was poised to be successful in a way that no other state really was, and I think you’ve seen it, both at the start and at the end of it. to come up.

I think the fact that New York City is still not settled continues to help the state. But, more importantly, the state established the right legal, legislative and regulatory framework with the right tax rates and recognized that, most importantly, you had to create an opportunity for people to migrate from the illegal market to the legal market. , safe and taxed. Marlet. So I think the reason New Jersey was successful was a combination of well thought-out dynamics around taxation, regulation, mobile, and that has served the state government and consumers very well. .

Q: You mentioned New York, which is still working on mobile sports betting. What impact do you think New York mobile sports betting will have on the New Jersey market?

Bill Miller: I wouldn’t want to speculate too much. I think every time you see game next door it has some effect. You’ve seen it in the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. As different states have come online, whether it’s casino gaming or sports betting – Pennsylvania is a prime example for New Jersey – that when those neighboring states come into play there is some impact, and usually a negative impact.

Q: NJ online gaming is approaching $ 1 billion in annual revenue for 2021. What can other jurisdictions considering New Jersey online gaming learn? What has New Jersey done well in this area to really stand out from anyone operating in this space?

Bill Miller: I think it’s important to remember that the industry is state by state, right? And that each state determine what level, how much gambling it wants – iCasino, sports betting, mobility, not mobility – and that the individual stakeholders in these state capitals and regulatory structures make those decisions. What we can say is that line and mobile were absolute lifesavers for the industry when all the physical dynamics were halted. And what we’ve seen coming out of COVID is that the old notions that brick and mortar and online were existential threats to each other are no longer the mainstream opinion.

Each of the physical operators now has a digital presence, and this was not the case before. Digital presence was additive. New Jersey acknowledged that in the very dynamic around “How do we introduce iGaming, how do we introduce sports betting, what does it look like? And when you integrate mobile, you can’t do any of these things without having mobile platforms.

So that’s the platform that then creates the opportunity for a state, whether it’s New Jersey or some other state, to say, “Okay, where do we want to be? »Is it limited to sports betting? Should we have iCasinos? What piece of this should we have? Certainly, there has been massive growth in the relatively small number of states that have iGaming. But we leave it up to individual states to make up their own minds when it comes to iGaming.

Q: Most of the major operators have a strong presence in the online space. What are they telling you about the coexistence of online and land-based gaming, and how do they bring this online casino customer to land ownership?

Bill Miller: I was on a panel the other day with Bill hornbuckle, CEO of MGM (International stations), and he really talked about it in a way that made a lot of sense and joined a lot of other operators that I have spoken with. And it was, look, in (The ace) Vegas, we may only see someone twice a year, but we can communicate with them 365 days a year. We have media interest, we have entertainment offerings, we have restaurants, we have properties across the country.

So, building that omnichannel experience is key to our ongoing relationship with someone who can only physically visit our property a few times a year. Even for regional operators who would look at this and say, “You know what? I really want to do all I can to get someone to come visit me more often.

At my property we have great restaurants, spas, swimming pools, a great casino and now sports betting. But how do you communicate regularly with this person? Everything is built around the same dynamic, which is to say that we want people to come and visit us, but we want people to associate with the brand. We’ve really crossed the river of that old dynamic that if it’s online, it’s at our expense. Now the Internet is seen as a way to build customer loyalty with us. Because we know they will come to the property, but we also know that we want them to stay involved in the brand 365 days.

Q: Atlantic City has recovered a little slower than other gaming jurisdictions. But the AC market has rebounded this summer. What have you seen in the Atlantic City market over the past year that is encouraging? And is there something still that concerns you?

Bill Miller: Look, we’ve all had a really tough 2020. And 2021 has certainly been exciting from a national and a regional perspective. Not all regions came back in the same way. I think Atlantic City’s future continues to be bright. I think it’s a major destination on the east coast.

My take is that the challenges here are the same as in other places, namely finding talent, supply chain challenges and people’s continued reluctance to travel. It’s still a real thing. But it’s opening up, it’s getting better, and I think Atlantic City will be in a good position.

Q: As we speak, there is a rally outside of casino workers protesting indoor smoking. Does the AGA have an official position on smoking inside casinos?

Bill Miller: The AGA has no official position on smoking. I will say that I have certainly heard from different operators that during COVID and the smoking ban on properties did not result in a decrease in business. And that was one of the areas that people used to worry about. So what is the future of smoking in casinos?

You know, I think it depends on individual states and even individual localities, and frankly, individual properties. And so it’s going to be a problem that continues to be resolved. But we’ve already seen some properties make post-COVID smoking decisions that they were forced to make during COVID, and without ill effects.

Main image credit: AP Photo / Wayne Parry


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