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Gaming industry to launch outreach initiative for presidential campaign

13 February 2015

LAS VEGAS -- The American Gaming Association (AGA) will launch a national initiative in conjunction with the 2016 presidential campaign aimed at showing the industry’s economic benefits to candidates for the nation’s highest office.

The effort, dubbed “Gaming Votes,” is twofold — to educate casino industry employees, vendors and other stakeholders on candidate positions on gaming, and to ensure candidates understand the industry’s economic contributions.

The organization wants to make gaming issues a topic for discussion during the campaign and change “false” perceptions about the casino industry.

During a presentation on the effort in Las Vegas on Thursday, the association cited a new Oxford Economics report on the broad base of jobs gaming companies provide and diversity in the industry’s workforce.

American Gaming Association President Geoff Freeman said public policy hasn’t kept up as the industry expanded beyond Nevada and New Jersey into 40 states where legal gaming is allowed. He said casino gaming “is highly competitive,” and issues such as regulatory reform and uniform taxation are needed.

“We’re going to replace myths with facts,” Freeman said. “We have an industry that provides 1.7 million jobs nationwide. It doesn’t get the respect it deserves.”

Freeman said the association’s effort will be balanced and won’t favor any individual candidates. He said association member companies will make their choices on endorsements and campaign financing.

The association has a political action committee, which has been focused on congressional races.

A model for the new political outreach effort can be found in Massachusetts, where the Washington-based lobbying organization ran pro-gaming advertisements last year as voters were asked to approve establishing three Las Vegas-style casinos. The association’s ads focused on economic benefits.

MGM Resorts International Chairman Jim Murren, who is chairman of the association board, said the effort will “put a face to an industry at large” and better serve members.

“We can’t assume that everyone has perfect information,” Murren said. “We found out, by going into a new state in particular, it’s stunning to hear the commentary. There is a lack of appreciation for the industry.”

The association’s Gaming Votes initiative will feature local events in the presidential battleground states of Nevada, Iowa, Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Gaming accounts for more than 500,000 jobs and contributes an estimated $75 billion in economic benefits in those states.

Freeman said both political parties will hold national conventions in cities with casinos: Republicans in Cleveland, Democrats in Philadelphia.

“The 2016 presidential candidates will wage their campaigns in the casino gaming industry’s backyards,” Freeman said. “We want the candidates to understand the role of the industry, and they want votes.”

Oxford Economics representative Hamilton Galloway said the study found that gaming employs a workforce in more than 200 job classifications, including high-tech, engineering, software development and law enforcement. He said the gaming industry is expected to add more than 62,000 jobs in the next decade.

A 2104 Oxford Economics study determined that gaming nationwide has an annual economic impact of $240 billion and supports more than 1.7 million jobs.

The newest study found that 45 percent of the gaming industry workforce is composed of racial or ethnic minorities, well above the U.S. average of 33 percent. Women make up 48 percent of the workforce.

Murren said MGM’s 62,000 employees are 65 percent minority. Among the company’s managers, 43 percent are women and 39 percent are minorities.

Rep. Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, whose district includes the Strip and downtown Las Vegas, said she backs the association’s outreach.

“The gaming industry offers careers in a variety of diverse fields, all of which contribute to our local and national economy,” Titus said in an e-mail. “From creating good-paying jobs to driving economic growth, the association should be applauded for launching this campaign and shining light on the gaming industry.”
Gaming industry to launch outreach initiative for presidential campaign is republished from