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2012 Year in Review

Issues of concern to the industry have been the focus of the AGA's efforts in Washington.

2012 Year in Review

Frank Fahrenkopf, Member of the First Republic Bank Board of Advisors. USAGE: As per 2009 contract between Jamey Stillings Photography, Inc. and First Republic Bank. Photo ©2009 Jamey Stillings, All Rights Reserved.

One of the primary missions of the American Gaming Association has always been to serve as the voice of the commercial casino industry, both in Washington with law and policy makers and nationwide with the general public. As I look back at 2012, I am struck by the diverse areas in which the AGA spoke out on behalf of the industry, whether it was advocating for policy issues like regulatory reform and the licensing and regulation of online poker or promoting the positive role that gaming companies play in their communities.

No review of the past year can skip over the biggest news story of them all—the election. While President Obama’s victory in the presidential election will probably have little effect on the commercial casino industry, victories for table game expansion in Rhode Island and Maryland will impact the growth of the gaming industry and bring additional jobs to gaming communities in those states.

On the federal level, the status quo has prevailed, so the AGA will continue to work with both its returning allies in Congress and new members to promote those issues of greatest importance to the commercial casino industry.

The close of another election season means the start of another “lame duck” session of Congress, and possibly the introduction of legislation that would allow states to license and regulate online poker. For the past two years, the AGA has supported the idea of this type of legislation and has worked hard to educate federal lawmakers about the importance of establishing minimum federal standards for consumer protection while strengthening law enforcement oversight. Failure to act at the federal level will result in a patchwork quilt of rules and regulations as states legalize various forms of online gambling one-by-one, making effective regulatory and law enforcement oversight extremely difficult and putting consumers at risk.

Online poker was not the only federal issue on which the AGA spoke up for industry interests this year. Tax reform, ATM regulations, off-reservation gaming and travel and tourism promotion all received significant attention from the AGA during 2012, and most likely will again in 2013.

While the AGA focuses most of its government affairs work on federal issues, it weighed in on two significant state-level issues during 2012. Following up on its regulatory reform white paper that was released in October 2011, the AGA worked with state gaming associations, casino operators and gaming equipment manufacturers to help advocate for regulatory reform in gaming jurisdictions across the country.

Also, the AGA released a white paper on internet sweepstakes cafés that addresses their proliferation and outlines the legal arguments against sweepstakes cafés. Through the distribution of this paper to governors and state attorneys general across the country and additional outreach efforts, the AGA is drawing attention to and encouraging legislation to combat this increasingly pervasive form of unregulated gambling.

Building on the successes of 2012, the AGA will continue its efforts to combat internet sweepstakes cafés and promote gaming regulatory reform in 2013.

Government affairs is not the only arena in which the AGA serves as the voice of the commercial casino industry. This year, one of the AGA’s most significant projects was the “All In” campaign, a year-long initiative focusing on the gaming industry’s leadership and success in corporate social responsibility (CSR). The campaign focused on four key components of CSR: philanthropy, responsible gaming, diversity and environmental sustainability.

The AGA focused on the industry’s philanthropic work during National Volunteer Week in April with coordinated industry-wide volunteer efforts and the release of a new white paper that provides a snapshot of national industry philanthropy programs and their impact.

The AGA continued its focus on industry good works during the 15th annual Responsible Gaming Education Week (RGEW), when gaming employees, patrons and the public were encouraged to go “All In for Responsible Gaming.” To commemorate the week, the AGA sponsored a contest through which gaming employees nationwide were asked to create an essay, poster or video explaining “What Responsible Gaming Means to Me.” Winning essays, posters and videos are featured on the AGA website. Next year’s RGEW will introduce interactive education tools that promote responsible gaming worldwide.

Also in August, the AGA went “All In for Diversity” with the presentation of the fourth annual Diverse Vendor of the Year Awards and the launch of the website for the Global Gaming Women (GGW) initiative, www.globalgamingwomen.org. In addition to launching its new website, GGW was busy during 2012 hosting education and networking programs at the industry’s largest international events. Next year, the AGA’s diversity efforts will include the release of a new employment diversity study, and Global Gaming Women will launch its highly anticipated interactive mentoring website.

America Recycles Day in November saw the AGA close out the “All In” campaign with a focus on environmental sustainability. As it did to promote the gaming industry’s philanthropy and volunteerism, the AGA released a white paper detailing the many ways that member companies promote environmentally friendly business practices.

In addition to promoting the positive impacts of the gaming industry’s CSR efforts, in February, the AGA released the most comprehensive survey of the economic impacts of the commercial casino industry in more than a decade. The report, “Beyond the Casino Floor: Economic Impacts of the Commercial Casino Industry,” was the first of its kind and offered new in-depth analysis of the gaming industry, including data on the effects of industry spending as well as industry-supported and induced spending.

As the gaming industry enters another year, the AGA will continue to serve as its voice, promoting its positive community impacts and advocating for federal policies that allow it to serve as an economic development engine in communities nationwide.

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