WASHINGTON, D.C. - Eleven United Way organizations representing major gaming jurisdictions nationwide - Atlantic City, N.J., Biloxi/Gulfport, Miss.; Davenport, Iowa; Kansas City, Mo.; Lake Charles, La.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Peoria, Ill.; New Orleans, La.; Tunica, Miss.; and Vicksburg, Miss. - gathered today on Capitol Hill to honor the gaming industry for its charitable contributions. The gaming industry is the first industry to be recognized by local United Way organizations for its generous philanthropy.
‘The gaming industry’s commitment to our communities is demonstrated through charitable giving, year after year,’ said Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., president and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA). ‘The United Way helps to improve the quality of life for thousands of people, community by community, and the gaming industry is proud to be a part of this organization’s work.’
AGA member companies alone gave more than $10 million last year to United Way; the 11 organizations at the Capitol Hill event represented more than 75 percent of all those donations. In all, gaming companies give in excess of $58 million annually to charitable causes, and gaming industry employees volunteer nearly 1 million hours of community service every year.
‘Every day we see the gaming industry’s commitment to local United Ways in our communities,’ said Garth Winckler, executive director of the United Way of Southern Nevada. ‘This event is our chance to say thank you.’
For the first time, the gaming industry joined with United Way organizations to formally recognize the achievements of individuals who have been able to overcome obstacles in their lives, including addiction, homelessness, and personal and family struggles, through the assistance of United Way agencies in their communities. The 2001 United Way-Gaming Industry Success Story Awards were presented to Kirk Cresto of Las Vegas; Jerame Hicks of East Chicago, Ind.; Carroll Johnson of Atlantic City, N.J.; and Sheila Kursh of Picayune, Miss.
‘Our partnership with the gaming industry has provided us with the resources we need to make an even greater difference in our communities,’ said Becky Montgomery, executive director of the United Way of South Mississippi. ‘Every one of our Success Story Award recipients is a real-life example of how that partnership can yield dividends for all of us.’
Philip G. Satre, chairman and CEO of Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc., delivered the keynote address at the event, praising the industry partnership that exists with United Way and the difference it came make in the communities where casino companies operate.
‘The contributions of our employees and companies to the United Way come alive when we see how they help people overcome enormous odds,’ Satre said. ‘We are inspired by the lives of the individuals whom the United Way touches. The depth of the relationships between individual casino employees and the good people of the United Way provides the most convincing evidence of the character of our companies.’
More than 125 people attended the event, including 15 United Way representatives from across the country, executives from eight casino companies and more than 25 members of Congress and staff from gaming communities.
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.