photo: Peter Urban / Stephens Media Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — The wall of framed photos with political heavyweights from Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher to Barack Obama — reputedly one of the more impressive collections in town accumulated over 30 years — has been taken down.
Two dozen boxes of papers and memorabilia are stacked on tables, on the floor, and atop filing cabinets, awaiting delivery to a warehouse in McLean, Va., where they will join another 35 boxes being transferred from storage in Maryland.
Among the few items not wrapped and packed in Frank Fahrenkopf’s corner office, which is located a block off Pennsylvania Avenue, are the custom desk from London he had crafted 24 years ago, an American flag standing in the corner and a knickknack of herding elephants signifying the job he once held as chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Fahrenkopf, who turns 74 next month, is downshifting after nearly two decades as the face of casino gambling in Washington and one of the most prominent Nevadans in the nation’s capital. The president and CEO of the American Gaming Association until he stepped aside on July 1 is plotting what comes next.
Over the years, he has alternately put out fires and served as a missionary for the commercial casino industry that once was concentrated in Nevada but now is an economic driver in almost half the states.
“It was a perfect storm in a way that when the industry needed to have someone, I happened to be here,” Fahrenkopf said in a recent interview.
But after staying on the job for an extra year in the for-now-dashed hope of helping to guide the industry into federally recognized online poker, he was completing his tenure.
“It just reached a point where 18 years is a long time. It’s always good to have fresh people come in,” Fahrenkopf said of the job he took when it was created in 1995 with the intention of staying just a year.
For Frank Fahrenkopf and Harry Reid, it was like their rankings in the Bluff Power 20 meant nothing.
Two of Nevada’s longtime political power players — gaming lobbyist Frank Fahrenkopf Jr. and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — took turns blaming each other for the failure for Congress to legalize Internet poker last year.
The dust-up surprised many because the longtime Nevadans had always been complimentary to each other.
Fahrenkopf, chief executive of the Washington, D.C.-based American Gaming Association, is retiring at the end of the month.
In an interview with online publication Gambling Compliance that was published Thursday, he said the failure of Reid and now-retired Arizona Sen. John Kyl to introduce an online poker bill last year “was my biggest disappointment” in his 18 years with the American Gaming Association.
Asked if he blames Reid and Kyl for not introducing legislation, Fahrenkopf said, “If I had to blame anybody — I mean I’m sure they did their best — but that’s where the failure is. Blame is not probably the right way to put it, but there was a failure because nothing was introduced.”
, who will step down in June after 18 years as president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, said Wednesday he believes a comprehensive federal bill legalizing online poker will be brought back to Capitol Hill this year.
Fahrenkopf expects Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, to reintroduce an Internet poker-only bill in the House. Barton has tried before but failed to garner enough support in the House to pass an online poker bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and former Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., were working on a bill last year, but it never materialized, much to the disappointment of Fahrenkopf and other gaming industry leaders.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if a new bill was introduced in this session,” Fahrenkopf told gaming regulators and executives during a question-and-answer session at the 2013 iGaming North America Conference at Planet Hollywood Resorts.
He said the association was “still hopeful something will get done,” but with Kyl’s retirement they are working to “find a conservative Republican from a nongaming state” to support a federal bill legalizing online poker.
Photo: Theresa Danna-Douglas /University of Nevada, Reno
Bill Eadington never built a billion-dollar Strip resort. He never managed a riverboat casino or a gambling hall of any size. Eadington never created a new table game. He never developed an innovative slot machine.
Yet, the influence Eadington carried inside and outside gaming circles during his 44-year academic career as an economics professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, went beyond measure. He founded the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming at UNR.
Dozens of gaming industry professionals owe their careers to Eadington. Emerging gaming markets sought out Eadington’s research and advice as a consultant on issues related to regulation and law, public policy, and legalization.
He paved the road for academics in other disciplines, such as sociology and history, to study gaming.
Frank Fahrenkopf, a Reno native and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, said Monday he will step down as president and chief executive of the American Gaming Association.
Fahrenkopf, 73, has led the Washington-based gaming industry lobbying group since it was formed in 1995. His resignation takes effect June 30.
“There have been dramatic changes to the industry over the last 17 years,” Fahrenkopf said. “When we opened our doors in July of 1995, Native American casinos and riverboats really started taking off. Then it was racinos.” Today, 22 states have commercial casinos with annual revenues topping $35.64 billion.
Fahrenkopf’s retirement was planned well in advance. He said planning a transition with the board of directors took two years, and an agreement on his departure date was reached in December 2011.
“It’s the perfect time for me to step down,” Fahrenkopf said. “We have a new president and a new Congress. I wanted to stay on through the election to work on Internet poker and other issues.”
WASHINGTON – A bill to legalize online poker that is being written in Congress and that Nevada senators are trying to pass by the end of the year could be challenged in court and found unconstitutional, according to a legal analysis by a former top government attorney.
The bill would set up a framework to license and regulate Internet poker companies, and to nourish a U.S.-based online poker industry. But former U.S. solicitor general Paul Clement said he found flaws in segments of the bill that seek to punish overseas providers that ran games in the United States and continued to take bets from U.S. players even after Congress enacted online restrictions in 2006.
The so-called “penalty box” provisions would prohibit those companies from applying for an online poker license for five years, and from selling their trademarks or software to others seeking a license.
Clement said the bill being formed by Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., “raises serious due process concerns.”
Passage of federal Internet poker legislation during Congress’ upcoming lame duck session will “take a little bit of gamblers luck,” the casino industry’s chief Washington, D.C., lobbyist said Tuesday in Las Vegas.
American Gaming Association President Frank Fahrenkopf Jr. said legalizing Internet poker in the U.S. continues to be an overriding issue for the casino industry, which officially kicked off the Global Gaming Expo at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. The four-day conference and trade show is the industry’s largest annual meeting.
Fahrenkopf, whose organization co-produces G2E with Reed Exhibitions, said Internet poker legalization is the most talked about subject among the gaming community. Most of the major casino companies and gaming equipment manufacturers have taken initial steps to jump into a legalized American Internet poker market.
A plank in the Republican platform, approved earlier this week at the party’s national convention in Tampa, Fla., calls for a “prohibition” on Internet gaming and reversing December’s re-evaluation of the Federal Wire Act.
The language – listed under the heading “Making the Internet Family-Friendly” – goes against the position taken by most of the gaming industry and of the state’s Republican elected leaders.
Gov. Brian Sandoval, who addressed the Republican Convention on Tuesday, said he doesn’t support the platform language.
“We’re not going to agree on everything,” Sandoval said. “Nevada has always set the gold standard in gaming, and online gaming is the next frontier for the industry. Our state supports online poker and will continue to work to ensure a secure online gaming environment.”
Two of the state’s largest slot machine manufacturers received Nevada’s first interactive gaming licenses in June. Regulators could license three more suppliers this month.
Another 30-plus casino operators and gaming equipment providers have interactive license applications on file with the Gaming Control Board. If all goes as planned, gaming regulators could rule on two or three applications per month well into 2013.
Meanwhile, Nevada has handed the technology certification process for Internet gaming systems to two of the industry’s largest testing laboratories, which have certified the equipment used in legal online gaming worldwide.
Based on industry talk, Nevada could have 20 online gaming websites launched in 2013. So why must online poker players wait even longer to place their bets?
Yesterday marked the anniversary of online poker’s Black Friday. Anyone who ever clicked a raise button remembers the fateful day, and many are reminiscing about how their world changed on April 15, 2011.
Here’s a best-of list of links, tweets and general brooding from over the weekend:
Have a listen to the premiere episode of Pokerati “all up in” @G2EVegas. Still workshopping the title … but come along for the ride as I find a sucker friend and colleague to fill me in on what’s been going on at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.
In this first episode, Mike, aka Lavigne in Austin aka @AustinML, discusses a session titled:
It featured Frank Fahrenkopf from the AGA, Caesars’ DC powerhouse Jan Jones (the former mayor of Las Vegas is recipient of this year’s lifetime achievement award), a lobbyist for companies looking to do business with licensed casinos, and a guy representing Native American interests. Here why they all seem convinced that intrastate online poker is going nowhere, but interstate online poker is right around the corner.
Some of you probably remember Mike Lavigne. He’s not much of a player (lol), but the former Texas state director of the PPA and fellow co-founder of the Texas Poker PAC, has been part of Pokerati since way-back. And with my government and public relations cronie in town for G2E … well, it made me think we needed a cheap knock-off of Tao of Pokerati, obv — not just to keep me posted, but to let the busy people out there doing real work get a taste of the wonk-fest and sales orgy going on at the Sands Convention Center this week.
G2E is arguably the biggest annual confab of gaming industry brainpower in the world … and though some may find it hard to get interested in a Las Vegas convention that doesn’t even include a poker tournament … what goes on here will be affecting your poker (and overall casino) experience in the future whether you like it or not.
The 11th annual Global Gaming Expo kicks off next week in a new location, the Sands Convention Center, in Las Vegas. Of all the gaming expos worldwide (there seem to be about two a month these days) G2E is one of the big ones (if not THE big one) … not just for vendors hawking comfortable casino seats and slot-machine rides, but also for the sessions in which casino industry leaders gather to chat about everything from gaming technology to online regulation to Indian nations to rewards programs.
Just got the press release about what AGA/G2E chief Frank Fahrenkopf plans to speak on in his media address: (Yay. Looking forward to it.)
ECONOMIC IMPACT OF THE CASINO INDUSTRY, ONLINE POKER TO BE
KEY TOPICS AT FAHRENKOPF’S ANNUAL G2E MEDIA BRIEFING Preliminary Topline Results of Major Economic Impact Study to be Unveiled
Also got word that this year G2E has very clear “no audio or video recording” rules for their extra-informative sessions. (Crap, there go Pokerati’s plans for recording as many as possible and sharing them with you and others who didn’t pay to attend.)
Either that wasn’t policy last year or I mighta missed the memo. (Oops?)
From Pokerati’s vast archive of yet-to-be-seen-or-heard content … have a listen to Fahrenkop’s 2010 G2E media pow-wow. And hear, now with the benefit of hindsight, what the AGA leader had to say about how some wanted to work with (or against) online poker sites such as Full Tilt and PokerStars … and what the vision was (and presumably still is) for a combination of state and federal regulations being the future path for legalized online gambling in the US.
AGA’s “new reality” (circa 2010): 1. Doing the Macau-rena; 2. “Hey Harry, pull my finger!”; 3. Poker (only) face.
Fahrenkopf: We’re ready to bring American casinos online (starting with poker)! Who’s with me?
The political arm of America’s brick-and-mortar casino industry is working on its own federal online poker bill, Frank Fahrenkopf, CEO of the American Gaming Association, revealed yesterday at a press conference in Washington DC. The AGA bill will likely be a hybrid between inter- and intra-state, providing federal oversight of independent state regulations.
Joining Fahrenkopf at the press conference were Keith Smith, president of Boyd Gaming; Gordon Kanofsky, CEO of Ameristar Casinos; and Virginia McDowell, president of Isle of Capri Casinos. The lobbying push the AGA kicked off yesterday talked about online poker most immediately, but language used didn’t seem to exclude the possibility of online slots and other casino games becoming part of these efforts.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is holding a lunch today with top Democratic leaders and casino executives to discuss, they say, a broad range of online gambling matters.
Gary Loveman, CEO of Caesars Entertainment (parent company to the WSOP), made note of the importance of online poker yesterday in an SEC filing yesterdayreporting Caesars Q1 2011 financial results. In the positive spin put on losing $147 million in the first three months of this year, he told Uncle Sam:
“Finally, we believe strongly that the recent federal indictments of illegal online poker operators should convince Congress to allow American citizens to play online poker and to allow American companies to compete in a multi-billion-dollar industry,” Loveman said. “By acting now to legalize a game enjoyed by millions of adult citizens, Congress can clarify ambiguous federal laws, generate tax revenues for federal and state governments and bring thousands of jobs to this country.”
AGA just released a statement in support of the “Prohibition of Internet Gambling, Internet Poker Regulation and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2010”, or, as I like to call it -> the PIG-IPRSUA. Catchy, right?
Surprising? No. Except the time it took for them to come forth with an official press release.
Frank Fahrenkopf, AGA chieftain, had the following to say:
â€œThis is tough law-and-order legislation that puts in place a solid regulatory framework and legal oversight that will prevent illegal activity and protect the estimated 15 million Americans who already are playing poker online. Ours is a unique industry in that it wants tough regulatory control and strict law enforcement oversight, which ensures the integrity of our business and protects consumers. Current online gambling laws do not provide these safeguards, leaving players and the system open to fraud, cheating and other illegal acts.â€
â€œWithout this legislation, players will remain unprotected, law enforcement oversight will remain murky, illegal offshore operators will continue to reap billions from U.S. bettors, and the U.S. will continue to lose out on the significant tax revenues and thousands of jobs that could be generated by this already popular activity. The millions of Internet poker players need and deserve the protections of a strong regulatory structure and law enforcement oversight that this legislation would provide.â€
Nothing new here.Â Yes, consumer protection is a positive.Â But what about this (emphasis added)?
The proposed legislation ensures that Federal and State authorities will now have the ability to control what has, until now, been unfettered access to all forms of Internet gambling.
My takeaway?Â AGA is letting *everyone* know they are behind this legislative horse.Â Gotta wonder what Fahrenkopf and crew think about Jersey, California, and the District of Columbia‘s push to legalize iGambling on their own.