Happy New Year.

Each December, many media outlets publish a list of famous people who died that year. Renowned singer Aretha Franklin, who passed away last August at 76, was among them in 2018.

During a distinguished 57-year career, Aretha earned the “Queen of Soul” title with good reason. One iconic song, “Respect,” describes a strong, confident woman who respects her man and demands the same behavior from him.

If only it were that easy. In today’s public and private life, respect and good manners are sadly in short supply. A thank-you is often nonexistent, foul language is “ho-hum” and verbal venom among adversaries pervades the public square.

Anyone who believes this is only a recent condition has been oblivious and should revisit the coarsening culture of the past 20-30 years. I blame poor parenting – it would never have happened in my house with my strong-willed mother – plus a lack of discipline and expectation at school, work or in polite society. Social media and the Internet facilitates rude, anonymous commentary and is also eroding common decency.

Washington is a hotbed of disrespect fromallsides. No one can honestly claim the moral high ground. I recognize and really dislike the offensive language from the top guy, but the Democrats also have plenty of their own.

In late 2018, multiple polls revealed Congress averages at most a 19.6 per cent approval rate. Consider that…only two in 10 people endorse them.

In life, a good first impression can’t be redone and many in Washington botched theirs on day one. For example, new Michigan Congresswoman Tlaib, a lawyer and member of the Democratic Socialists of America, succeeded in disgusting almost everyone.

Tlaib strongly opposes Donald Trump. That’s fine and her right. What isn’t fine is her public vulgarity at a celebration following her swearing-in this month. Tlaib boasted to supporters of telling her young son that bullies don’t win because “we’re gonna go in there, we’re gonna impeach the motherxxxxer.” Her target was Donald Trump.

So much for Michelle Obama’s campaign premise that “when they go low, we go high.” That sounds pretty low to me.

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, 28, from New York City, has already threatened to impose sky high tax rates on the wealthy. Enjoying her moment as the media’s “darling du jour,” Ocasio-Cortez also promises possible legal actions without having any congressional authority.

These two represent many in Washington who know little, but lack enough humility to learn before they speak out.The list goes on and on.

Conversely, people with real professionalism and intelligence should receive great respect from their peers. Congratulations to the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) new CEO/President Bill Miller, who assumed the position on January 14th after an extensive search.

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He has decades of federal government and private sector experience. Since 2012, Bill served as senior vice president of Washington D.C.’s Business Roundtable (BRT). BRT member CEOs run America’s largest companies, employ 15 million nationwide and work to develop enduring economic policies and advocacy.

In 1995, the AGA formed to fight potential federal taxes. Since then, their focus now includes new technology, regulations, legislative activity, employment and Indian gaming. These components all require a different approach.

Bill is the second recruited industry outsider to lead the AGA. In 2013, Geoff Freeman replaced retiring CEO/President and insider attorney Frank Fahrenkopf, whose 18-year leadership steered the early AGA. Frank had worked on many gaming issues.

Good luck, Bill. I have already requested an interview.

AGA Senior VicePresident of Public AffairsSara Slane is another gaming powerhouse. Whether on an industry panel or testifying before Congress, Sara’s knowledge and preparation takes a back seat to no one.

At last October’s G2E sports betting seminar, Sara refused to concede any ground as Major League Baseball’s Kenny Gersh continually referred to integrity fees as royalties. She called these fees, by whatever name, a non-starter.

Now, Sara is confronting another non-starter. The “Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018″ is legislation introduced on December 19 by New York Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and retiring Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch.

In part, this is Sara’s official response:

“This bill is the epitome of a solution in search of a problem, representing an unprecedented and inappropriate expansion of federal involvement in the gaming industry, which is currently one of the most strictly regulated in the country.” Across the country, nearly 4,000 dedicated public servants already regulate all forms of gaming, including sports wagering, with more than $500 million committed to ensuring the integrity of commercial casinos’ operations and $822 million spent on regulation of tribal gaming in 2015 alone. These state and tribal regulators have decades of experience effectively overseeing gaming operations within their jurisdictions.

Additional areas this bill seeks to address – including the mandatory use of official league data and the creation of a national sports wagering clearinghouse – can, and should, be decided by marketplace negotiations between private businesses and cooperative agreements among jurisdictions. In the mere six months since the US Supreme Court paved the way for legal, regulated sports betting, significant developments on both of these fronts have already occurred without any federal involvement…”

In earlier days, and occasionally still, legislators viewed amusement and casino operators as unsavory. Time and a commitment to excellence have mostly changed that.

These old and new Congressional/Senate representatives should reassess their purpose and concentrate on real issues. Maybe they could then actually be productive and raise their approval ratings as a sign of the public’s respect.

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