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January 11, 2013 Print

Fahrenkopf Resigns from Gambling Lobby

by Chad Hills

Both the Las Vegas Review and Capitol Hill’s Roll Call announced the resignation of the chief commercial gambling lobbyist, Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr., from his position as CEO/President of the American Gaming Association (AGA).

Those who cherish the former RNC Chairman’s progress for the commercial gambling market will lament this loss; conversely, those of us who work to protect our nation and its families from the ever-invasive and dangerous gambling market are content hearing this news.

As a pro-family gambling opponent, I felt compelled to list a few of my fondest Fahrenkopf memories below:

Honest Hypocrisy

Fahrenkopf NIMBY 2007

Fahrenkopf NIMBY 2007

One of my favorite Fahrenkopf moments was when Rev. Tom Grey was interviewing Frank Fahrenkopf about gambling expansion and casinos. It was a rare moment in the AGA lobbyist’s life, when he told the whole truth. “Not in my backyard,” Fahrenkopf told Grey about expanding gambling and building casinos; additionally, Fahrenkopf admitted that he doesn’t mind placing casinos in other people’s communities. I appreciated his honesty, albeit hypocritical, in his answer. Read more and see the video clip here …

Half Truths

Mr. Fahrenkopf has been a politically savvy gambling lobbyist, “wiggling” his way through a myriad of negative publicity. He was relatively effective at concealing gambling’s (er, “gaming’s”) dark underbelly, addiction, from the public eye.

Perhaps a more poignant example of how Frank Fahrenkopf worked his “gambling’s-not-so-bad” magic occurred in 2002, in a Q & A column in the Washington Post.

In this interview, Fahrenkopf repeatedly mentions the National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGISC), for credibility, as he presents a series of half-truths. He frequently quotes one of the AGA’s favorite statistics, “… only about 1 percent of adults in this country are pathological gamblers.”

He gets away with this because most people will never read this report themselves. But if the ‘whole truth’ or whole story were to be told, the public might realize that gambling addiction is a very big problem  in our nation. Between 5-7 percent of the U.S. population, 10 years and older, has a problem or pathological gambling addiction (estimated 15-20 million people). And nearly two in five adolescents have a problem gambling addiction, while more than 1 in 10 have pathological gambling addictions.

When you care about families, these are concerning numbers – numbers that the gambling lobby tries to hide, minimize and ignore. See the gambling addiction chart below.

Big Gambling, Big Lobbying, Big Money

Fahrenkopf played big with the AGA’s influence. According to OpenSecrets.org lobbying records, the American Gaming Association spent an excess of $1.9 million lobbying Congress in 2012. As a whole, gambling interests spent approximately  $47.8 million lobbying Congress in 2012, with President Barack Obama as the top gambling-money recipient, receiving $281,407. Investigate some of the American Gaming Association’s corporate ties here …

Happy Trails

It’s a safe bet that Fahrenkopf has secured a comfortable retirement, considering his 2010 compensation package was nearly $2.6 million, according to GuideStar.org website. And, like other gambling lobbyists and operators, I’m guessing Fahrenkopf knows better than to gamble with his retirement.

Which direction will commercial gambling and the AGA move in Fahrenkopf’s absence? We’ll know soon.

(Click Image for larger view)


Dig Deeper …

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