LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The executive who has headed the country's main casino industry lobbying organization since its inception in 1995 announced Monday that he'll step down June 30.
Frank Fahrenkopf Jr. issued a statement saying that he and the American Gaming Association board began planning for his departure two years ago, and he expects a smooth transition when he ends his tenure after 17½ years. A successor hasn't been named.
"It has been a true honor to work with so many passionate and innovative leaders as we have moved the industry forward," Fahrenkopf said.
AGA Chairman Richard Haddrill, who also is chairman of Reno-based Bally Technologies Inc., described Fahrenkopf as a steady, thoughtful leader who has guided the casino industry through significant changes.
Accomplishments included findings and recommendations from the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, promoting diversity in industry hiring and procurement, the establishment of a National Center for Responsible Gaming, and the growth of industry trade shows such as Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas and G2E Asia.
Meanwhile, Internet gambling has emerged as the "next frontier" and one of the biggest threats to the casino industry in the United States, Fahrenkopf said during the annual Global Gaming Expo in October.
Jim Murren, chairman and chief executive of MGM Resorts International, called Fahrenkopf's political skills "instrumental in protecting and promoting our industry's interests on Capitol Hill."
"It hasn't always been easy to bring our disparate group together, but he did it," Murren said.
Gary Loveman, chairman, president and chief executive of casino giant Caesars Entertainment Corp., credited Fahrenkopf with making the Washington, D.C.-based association the "voice of a dynamic and controversial industry."
Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., noted that Fahrenkopf is from Reno, and called him a "consistent and powerful advocate for issues that are important to Nevada."
Fahrenkopf, 73, was chairman of the Republication National Committee for six of Ronald Reagan's eight years as president, and led the GOP through presidential elections in 1984 and 1988. He continues to serve as co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates.
He plans to serve as a consultant to the AGA after July 1 to assist with the executive transition through at least the end of 2013.