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Gaming Industry Going 'All In'

Why environmental sustainability is another hallmark of community involvement

Gaming Industry Going 'All In'

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.

Environmental sustainability has become a business imperative in the gaming entertainment industry. According to results of a new AGA member sustainability survey to be released later this month, responding companies recycled more than 68,000 tons of material during the past year.

One gaming company recycled 1,000 tons of compost, while another recycled 2,065 tons of cardboard. Another recycled more than 110,000 pounds of soaps and shampoos—and that was just the beginning. Due to various conservation efforts, companies also reported saving hundreds of millions of gallons of water. Some have also cut back their carbon emissions by as much as 8-11 percent in one year, equaling tens of thousands of megatons saved from the atmosphere.

If all of these efforts seem laborious and expensive, consider this: When asked about the price of these strategies, 83 percent of respondents said it has lowered their cost of doing business.

Environmental sustainability is a huge part of any corporate strategy these days, and the gaming industry is no different. It is a major facet of our business, and we see it as necessary for several reasons: customers now expect it; cost-cutting makes it essential; and it’s the right thing to do.

As many in the industry already know, throughout 2012, the American Gaming Association has led the industry-wide “All In” campaign—an initiative focusing on corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts in our industry.

The campaign showcases how commercial gaming companies play a significant role in bettering local communities and the environment. So far, it has focused on three key components: philanthropy, responsible gaming and diversity. The AGA has worked closely with our member companies to engage them during each phase of the campaign to highlight industrywide activities and, in some cases, release new research on the various CSR efforts. The participation has been strong, and we are proud of the results.

Now, we’re gearing up to enter the fourth and final phase of the All In campaign, focused on environmental sustainability. Activities will be centered on America Recycles Day, which takes place November 15. As part of the initiative, the AGA will release a new report that quantifies the industry’s efforts in environmental sustainability, some preliminary results of which I highlighted above. A special section of our website, americangaming.org, will feature case studies highlighting specific industry programs.

According to a recent study by Pike Research, a consulting team that provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets, successful CSR campaigns share a few key points such as executive buy-in and the establishment of clear and measurable goals. Results of our soon-to-be-released survey indicate a commitment to sustainability is becoming increasingly important at the very highest levels of our businesses.

Two-thirds of respondents said that pursuing an environmental sustainability strategy is necessary for their business to be competitive, and half have identified a lead executive to head their corporate sustainability strategy. And when asked about the importance of environmental sustainability for their company, one-third called it a top, permanent priority, while nearly half said it was on the agenda to become more important in the future. The results of this prioritization are evident.

In addition to the statistics I briefly cited above, there are several long-term, innovative environmental sustainability strategies that stand out as models for our industry. In 2009, the U.S. Green Building Council recognized Boyd Gaming with the first and only Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for laundry services. At its 100,000-square-foot facility, all nine of Boyd’s Las Vegas properties combine to make 55,000 pounds of laundry a day. Through several methods, including reusing resources and changing detergents, Boyd reports using 27 percent less electricity, 47 percent less natural gas and 75 percent less water.

When Caesars Entertainment released its 2009-2010 Environmental Sustainability and Community Engagement Report a year ago, it was the first in the industry to do so. Since then, its CodeGreen environmental initiative has resulted in energy savings, emissions reductions and LEED certification for an expansion at Caesars Palace.

Las Vegas Sands Corporation, too, has earned LEED certification for its Venetian and Palazzo properties in Las Vegas. And its additional conservation efforts save beyond LEED requirements: In Las Vegas, its buildings save enough kilowatt hours annually to power 6,500 average American households.

MGM Resorts has made similar efforts. In addition to LEED certification for many of its properties, it is a member of the Environmental Protection Agency WasteWise program as well as the EPA’s Combined Heat and Power Partnership.

Two years ago, slot manufacturer WMS launched a green initiative that includes a plan to achieve LEED status for its facilities, which has already resulted in new recycling and waste reduction efforts at its Waukegan and Chicago facilities. Similarly, JCM Global has implemented environmental education and awareness activities for its employees, and has defined its own “Environmental Aims and Targets” to reduce waste, recycle more and conserve resources.

I could go on with further examples—as these are just a few of the many efforts gaming companies are undertaking—but the important point is that we are now in an age where energy-efficient light bulbs, water-saving infrastructures, sustainable construction and integrated recycling efforts are not the stand-outs, but the norm.

The AGA website includes activity ideas to help highlight your company’s environmental initiatives and get your employees engaged in this issue. I encourage you all to take advantage of these resources and go “All In for the Environment.” As I’ve always said, the gaming industry is one that successfully keeps up with the times and constantly reinvents itself; shepherding in a new era of environmental sustainability is just the latest evidence of this trend.

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