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Unquenched Optimism

American Gaming Association President and CEO, Bill Miller sees better times ahead for gaming. By David McKee

2020 was the worst of years for the gaming industry and yet showed it at its finest. To cite but one example, Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson not only deployed some of the most stringent and earliest anti-Covid protocols in the business, he also kept his entire workforce on salary throughout the pandemic.
One thinks of Adelson as his sudden death prefaced American Gaming Association President Bill Miller’s State of the Industry speech by only a few days. And if the ghost of Adelson seemed to be hovering over the conference call, it was because the previous afternoon, new Sands CEO Rob Goldstein said the company would be “exploring” online sports betting and Internet gambling—a 180-degree reversal from Adelson’s entrenched opposition.
Breaking with previous AGA neutrality on these issues, Miller called OSB and i-gaming “essential” to the industry’s future, especially as they had been mainstays of revenue and sources of continuity during the Great Shutdown. “But optimism is no excuse for complacency,” he added, before outlining his agenda for the new(ish) year. To get more of a sense of what Miller hopes—and fears—we caught up with him just after the Super Bowl.
What have we learned from the pandemic about gaming’s resilience?
The last year has been…‘trying’ is an understatement. To have an industry that was literally, completely shut down with the exception of online. The industry has shown resilience that it has over many decades that have usually been more localized, if you think of the industry’s resilience after Hurricane Katrina or Superstorm Sandy or 2008-9’s financial crisis. There was a resilience that had to be evident in those crises but never anything like this. What we’ve weathered over the last 11 months has really showed the toughness of the industry, the ability of the industry

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