Washington, D.C. — Twenty-five United Way organizations from around the country honored the gaming industry today at a Capitol Hill luncheon. The gaming industry is the first industry to be recognized by local United Way organizations for its generous philanthropy.
‘While our industry is relatively new in states beyond Nevada and New Jersey, we have embraced our new communities by demonstrating a commitment to their future through charitable giving,’ said Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., president and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA). ‘Our partnership with United Way in the 11 states where we do business has helped improve the quality of life for our employees as well as our neighbors.’
In total, the gaming industry donates more than $58 million to charities each year, including more than $10 million given annually by the industry to local United Way campaigns. In addition, gaming companies sponsor volunteer programs through which nearly 900,000 hours of community service have been given.
‘This kind of commitment doesn’t just happen — it starts at the top,’ said Becky Montgomery, executive director of the United Way of South Mississippi. ‘What other industry across the nation can claim such benefits for our communities?’
Garth Winckler, president of the United Way of Southern Nevada, noted: ‘It is the first time that a group of local United Way organizations have left their hometowns to come together in Washington, D.C., to say thank you to an industry. Every local United Way I talked to was eager to tell me about the involvement, leadership and financial support that local gaming properties provide.’
Winckler introduced the keynote speaker, Steve Wynn, chairman of the board and CEO of Mirage Resorts — ‘a terrific United Way volunteer,’ according to Winckler.
‘We have found a simple truth,’ Wynn said in his remarks. ‘When people feel good about themselves and about the enterprise, they respond. This simple truth holds institutions together.’
Wynn commented on why casino workers are generous with their time and money. ‘It is both a universal trait of human beings to want to help those less fortunate and a corporate environment that encourages giving,’ Wynn said. ‘If a company has leadership that helps people gain confidence, that company will break records in making contributions.
‘All of us are the same in that regard,’ Wynn said. ‘When we feel fortunate, when we feel optimistic about ourselves, we tend to be generous in spirit.’
Representatives from local United Way organizations from across the country attended the luncheon, along with executives from more than 30 gaming properties, congressional leadership and members of Congress representing the gaming communities being honored.
The AGA represents the commercial casino entertainment industry by addressing regulatory, legislative and educational issues. The association serves as a clearinghouse for information, develops aggressive educational and advocacy programs, and provides leadership on issues of public concern.