In a packed room near the buffet at the Hollywood Casino Columbus, two members of Congress touted the impact of—and their support for—the Penn National Gaming property that had opened three years earlier.
“I’m very hopeful and I’m very proud. I’m a big advocate and certainly was a proponent of bringing the casino to Columbus,” said Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, a Democrat and member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
“The jobs matter,” said Congressman Steve Stivers, a Republican who has represented central Ohio since 2012, referencing a new report released by the American Gaming Association showing that his state’s 11 casinos and racinos support nearly 18,000 jobs.
A similar scene played out at a Gaming Laboratories International testing facility just minutes from downtown Denver. GLI is hiring local engineers and mathematicians from Colorado’s finest colleges and universities, as it has grown its workforce to 125 employees over the last year, and the lab highlights the diverse range of jobs the gaming industry provides.
Congressman Scott Tipton, a Republican who represents tribal casinos in southwestern Colorado, has seen the benefits of gaming firsthand, and voiced his support for our industry.
“Some of the job opportunities that we see in various communities when we’re talking about the high-tech nature of this certainly create ample opportunity for people to be able to elevate themselves. As we move out of the metro area and into the more rural communities, where those opportunities are a little more limited, this is one access point that can help economically and help to be able to grow the economy.”
U.S. Senator Cory Gardner was also eager to tout the jobs gaming supports in his state.
“If you look at the nearly 11,000 employees across Colorado involved in the industry, that’s everybody from maybe working in a kitchen to somebody who may be overseeing or dealing a game, or somebody who is working on the floor. So these are incredible amounts of jobs that run a variety of fields, from Ph.Ds and mathematicians to others who are providing support services at a hotel.”
Building champions of gaming in Congress has never been more important than it is today, which is why AGA has been aggressive with the Gaming Votes initiative, which launched earlier this year, to hold on-the-ground events in key states. By tying these events in with the presidential election in the battleground and early voting states of Iowa, Ohio, Colorado, Nevada and others, we are creating prime opportunities for members of Congress to shine in their districts by touting jobs and economic development. The Gaming Votes initiative has demonstrated that support for our industry is bipartisan in nature.
In a way that is new to gaming but not to other mainstream industries, we are showing elected officials the benefits of supporting our industry. At the local level, one would be hard-pressed to find a nonprofit leader,
chamber of commerce president or mayor who does not embrace gaming, and the Gaming Votes events serve as a reminder to federal officials of the strong local support we enjoy and the role we play as valued community partners.
In 2016, we will have many more opportunities to highlight gaming. Expect to see AGA engaging local, state and federal officials in more battleground states, such as Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan. With Nevada, Iowa, Ohio and other states hosting presidential debates, we will ensure that the jobs we support and the economic development we drive in those states are front and center for candidates and voters.
Further, in the coming weeks, AGA will finalize a voter guide that will help the nearly 1 million gaming employees across the country understand where presidential candidates stand on gaming and key issues that affect our success. We encourage gaming professionals to tell the story of our industry as they engage with candidates over the next year.
Through Gaming Votes, we are educating candidates about the ins and outs of our dynamic industry and the significant positive impact it has on the economy in communities across the country. Most importantly, though, we are building supporters in Congress who recognize the value we bring to their district and state. We hope you will join us in this effort.