Wynn Resorts, Station Casinos to Join American Gaming Association

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The Washington, D.C.-based American Gaming Association announced Tuesday it would add three new members, including Wynn Resorts Ltd. and Station Casinos.

Racetrack and casino operator Churchill Downs Inc. also will join the organization, which represents the commercial gaming industry on Capitol Hill. All three companies will add representatives to American Gaming Association’s board of directors.

Wynn Resorts Chairman Steve Wynn is expected to join the board. The move would mark Wynn’s return to the organization that he helped found in June 1995. Wynn left the organization after the sale of Mirage Resorts to the then-MGM Grand Corp. in 1999.

Station Casinos Chairman Frank Fertitta III also is expected to join the board.

MGM Resorts International Chairman Jim Murren is the association’s incoming chairman, replacing Bally Technologies Chairman Richard Haddrill, whose term expires at the end of the year.

The changes come as the organization undergoes its first major transition since it was founded. Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., the American Gaming Association’s original president, retired in June and was replaced by Geoff Freeman, a longtime U.S. travel industry official.

Recently, several top management officials within the American Gaming Association left the organization.

Freeman said the addition of Station Casinos, Wynn Resorts and Churchill Downs represents “a critical step in the AGA’s evolution as a representative of the entire gaming industry.”

The move also adds a strong proponent of legalized Internet gaming in Station Casinos at a time when there is a divide among the organization’s board.

The American Gaming Association as an organization supports federal legalization of Internet poker. However, Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson announced his opposition to Internet gaming and intends to spend millions of dollars to fight legalization at both the federal and state level.

Las Vegas Sands President Michael Leven is a member of American Gaming Association’s board while Station Casinos is majority owner of Ultimate Gaming, which operates regulated Internet gaming websites in Nevada and New Jersey.

“We’re not the first association to have members disagree on an issue,” Freeman said in an interview with GamblingCompliance.com. “Now, other associations may not have people with the same resources (as Adelson) to express their point of view, but this happens in associations all the time.”

(c) 2013, Stephens Media LLC

- Howard Stutz covers the gaming industry for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and writes the Inside Gaming column for the LVRJ. His work appears on OnlinePokerReport via syndication with the Stephens Media GamingWire.
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