The new President and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA), Bill Miller, says the strong track record of US casino operators in providing a positive economic impact to the communities in which they operate should be a key consideration for Japanese authorities when it comes to issuing IR licenses.
US operators rank among the most prominent contenders for the three Japan licenses on offer, with Las Vegas giants MGM Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Resorts lining up alongside regional candidates such as Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, Rush Street Gaming and Foxwoods.
Speaking with Inside Asian Gaming just four months after taking over from Geoff Freeman as head of the AGA, Miller revealed he would be actively supporting American operators in Japan based on their economic achievements back home.
“Ultimately when you are looking around for the best operators, they are the ones that care, that make investments in communities, that show their commitment to the local communities in which they operate, and I think American operators have a very good story to tell,” Miller, whose background includes 12 years as National Political Director for the US Chamber of Commerce, tells IAG.
“I’ve been to Las Vegas many times since I began this job but I’ve also been to tribal properties and I’ve seen what the gaming industry has meant both from a commercial perspective and from a tribal perspective.
“I’m a Chamber of Commerce guy at heart and I absolutely believe that you need economic hooks to create communities and whether it be a hospital, a university, a casino or IR, this ecosystem is a very positive one in communities across the country.
“As the Japanese government is going through the decision-making process – and they’ve designed what an IR should look like in their opinion – they will ultimately have to look to those operators who are in-market today and applying those values, and I think our guys have a very good story to tell.”
Miller also pointed to the impending license re-tendering process facing Macau’s six concessionaires – three of which are US-based – as a key issue for the AGA over the coming years.
Asked whether he foresaw any problems befalling Sands, MGM or Wynn in successfully bidding for new licenses, Miller said, “I think Macau is a great success story because of the partnership between the commercial operators – be they American or other – and the Macanese government.
“My view is that the American operators that have invested in Macau, that have made long-term commitments there and continue to drive innovation, are very important players in the economy and I think that should continue.”