As anyone who has read a newspaper recently can attest, people are talking about the gaming industry. In the past few months alone, several high-profile mergers and the healthy rebound of gaming-related tourism have garnered significant attention for our industry.
While this renewed national interest in gaming has created opportunities in states like Pennsylvania, it has also increased scrutiny of our industry and threatened to stifle future growth, as gaming opponents have become more organized and more vocal in their efforts, using outdated rhetoric in attempts to influence state and federal lawmakers.
Since its creation in 1995, the American Gaming Association (AGA) has served as the voice of the gaming industry in our nation’s capital, reaching out to members of Congress to protect the interests of our member companies and their employees. The AGA is the most influential and effective organization for the industry on Capitol Hill, helping to set the course for our future through aggressive outreach and effective program development.
Up to this point, we have been successful in fighting for the issues that matter to our members. Now, recent changes to campaign finance laws have introduced new challenges, demanding that individuals with a stake in the U.S. commercial casino industry get more involved in the political process. As a result of these changes, political action committees (PACs) have become much more critical tools to give industries a voice on the issues affecting their business. AGA member company executives have recognized this need, challenging us to broaden participation in our PAC.
We have responded by launching a major campaign to increase individual membership in the AGA as well as an aggressive fund-raising campaign to raise $300,000 for its PAC by the end of 2004. The strength of our PAC depends on the support of both companies and individuals with a stake in the industry, and it is more important than ever for individuals to get involved and help support the AGA mission. The AGA PAC is bipartisan, serving as the united political voice of the gaming industry and contributing to and sponsoring events for political candidates that support the views of the industry.
By joining the AGA as an individual member and contributing to our PAC, you ensure that legislators with the power to affect your future hear about the issues that are important to you. You also help ensure that workers affiliated with the commercial casino industry have the same representation and the same voice in government as employees from any other industry. Our industry’s large work force and stockholders have the constitutional right to participate in the political process. In today’s political landscape, building a strong PAC is the primary way this equality can be achieved.
AGA’s fund-raising campaign will involve outreach to encourage PAC contributions from member companies and their employees as well as recruitment of AGA vendors and other employees involved in the gaming industry who have a right to have a voice in Congress. Individuals interested in joining the AGA and contributing to this effort can access information through a new membership section of the AGA Web site. We will also have a special booth set up at G2E 2004 to showcase our new individual membership program.
While allowing for contributions to the AGA PAC, individual membership in the AGA gives those affiliated with the commercial casino industry the opportunity to support AGA programs and reap the benefits from the nation’s largest casino employee advocacy organization.
Exactly how does the AGA help those with a stake in the gaming industry? We spearhead the development of industrywide programs and policies on newly emerging national issues such as responsible gaming, diversity and legal issues. We advocate the industry’s position on issues of concern to our membership, including taxation, travel and tourism and workplace issues. We develop aggressive public education programs designed to bring the industry’s message to targeted audiences across the nation. And we serve as a resource of timely, accurate gaming industry data for members, the media, elected officials and other decision makers. Members will also have access to a host of AGA information resources, special events and programs.
This is an exciting and challenging time for our industry, and decisions made on Capitol Hill will undoubtedly impact the success of our business. Everyone affiliated with the gaming industry has a right to have a voice in Congress to fight for the issues that matter to you. The AGA is that voice, and contributing to the AGA PAC will ensure that our voice is heard.