Casinos have new man in Washington

Geoff Freeman has landed the top job at the American Gaming Association (AGA).

Freeman, chief operating officer and executive vice president for the U.S. Travel Association, will start on July 1 as the gaming trade association’s new president and CEO. The top spot at the AGA is one of K Street’s most prized, as it comes with a multimillion-dollar paycheck and the glitz and glamor of Las Vegas.

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Freeman “is both a thoughtful and energetic leader who already understands our industry, has a deep public policy background and extensive network of relationships in Washington and has the skills to build coalitions and execute grass roots campaigns,” said Richard Haddrill, chairman of Bally Technologies Inc. and chairman of the AGA’s Board of Directors, in a statement.

Freeman said he wanted to strengthen ties between gaming and the travel industry.

“As gaming grows around the globe, I look forward to strengthening our partnership with other aspects of the travel community and advancing policies that can empower our industry to thrive for years to come,” Freeman said.

Freeman was at the U.S. Travel Association for seven years and helped lead the lobbying campaign to pass the Travel Promotion Act. He is a veteran of Washington policy and advocacy, having also worked at APCO Worldwide, Freddie Mac and the American Association of Health Plans.

He will replace Frank Fahrenkopf, the former Republican National Committee chairman who has led the trade group since it was founded 17 years ago.

Executive search firm Korn/Ferry International sifted through candidates for the AGA’s top job, which was attracting interest from ex-lawmakers. The casino lobby job is one of the highest-paying on K Street.

Fahrenkopf earned more than $4.6 million in compensation for 2011, according to the AGA’s tax form for that year. That would be a big pay raise for Freeman, who earned more than $600,000 in that year, according to the Travel Association’s 2011 tax form.