Global Gaming Business
Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr.
President and CEO, American Gaming Association
If you have picked up a newspaper, turned on a TV or looked at a website in the past nine months, you know that 2012 is an election year, and given those circumstances, the political climate and agenda on Capitol Hill in the coming year is likely to be dominated by the upcoming election.
The presidential election will get most of the media coverage, and some of the key issues debated during the campaign – taxes, health care, immigration, regulation and budget reform – will significantly affect the business community and could greatly impact how gaming companies operate.
Despite the anticipated dominance of election-year politics in 2012, work in Washington will continue, particularly as leaders grapple with how to facilitate improvement in the still weakened national economy. On the Hill, the AGA will continue to represent the commercial casino industry on gaming-specific issues such as online poker, off-reservation gaming and other issues that affect the industry, while also protecting the industry from unfair regulation and taxation.
A key legislative priority in 2012 will be the AGA’s continued support for legislation to allow states to license and regulate online poker so Americans who play can do so safely with responsible, law-abiding operators. Establishing federal guidelines to allow state-licensed and regulated online poker also would effectively keep minors from gambling online, prevent fraud and money laundering, address problem gambling and ensure players aren’t being cheated. American consumers deserve to be protected, and the AGA will work to ensure members of Congress are educated about the issue and the risks of the current online gambling environment.
In addition to the significant work the AGA has planned on the political front for 2012, the AGA will continue its work of telling the story of the modern commercial casino industry. A key part of that story is the important work that gaming companies put into corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, making the communities where they operate better places to live, work and play. This year, shining the light on these activities will be an ongoing theme in the AGA’s communications efforts.
On the heels of the release of a major study of the economic impact of the gaming industry, the AGA will focus on the industry’s community and philanthropic impact with the release of a report that will detail the industry’s CSR record, providing insight on charitable contributions, volunteer initiatives, environmental stewardship, diversity and other related activities.
The commercial casino industry has a tremendous record of volunteer service, and the AGA will work in 2012 to aggregate, promote and coordinate those efforts at the national level. We plan to leverage national events like National Volunteer Week and National Days of Service and will work to highlight the various philanthropic activities of its member companies in a dedicated corporate social responsibility section of the AGA website.
Responsible gaming is a significant part of the gaming industry’s CSR efforts all year, and the 15th annual Responsible Gaming Education Week once again will serve as a catalyst to help gaming companies educate employees, patrons and the public about the importance of responsible gaming. The ongoing activities of the AGA’s affiliated charity, the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) also will galvanize industry CSR efforts. Through outreach and unique learning opportunities like treatment provider workshops and webinars, the NCRG will continue to advance public education about gambling disorders and responsible gaming through the translation and application of scientific, peer-reviewed research on the topic.
A focus on the importance of employee and supplier diversity has always been a hallmark of the gaming industry’s CSR efforts, and the AGA has a number of activities and initiatives planned for 2012 to promote and publicize the industry’s work in this area. The AGA is looking forward to the expansion of its new Global Gaming Women (GGW) initiative. Launched last fall, GGW was created to nurture emerging female leaders in the international gaming industry. By fostering stronger relationships between top female executives and promising managers, GGW will create an opportunity for women in the industry to learn from each other, share ideas and take advantage of mentorship opportunities.
Also on the diversity front, the AGA will conduct and release the latest edition of its semi-annual Employment Diversity Snapshot report, which measures diversity in hiring by gaming companies and compares the data with other industries. The employment diversity snapshot was last conducted in 2008„ so this year’s report will be the first to analyze industry hiring practices since the recession. The AGA also will continue to present its annual Diverse Vendor of the Year Awards, which gives AGA members the opportunity to recognize top minority, woman and disadvantaged business enterprises (MWDBEs) doing business with the gaming industry.
In addition to standing up for the industry on Capitol Hill and shining a spotlight on its CSR activities, the AGA will continue to create business opportunities for the gaming industry worldwide through the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) family of events. In 2012, G2E Asia will move two weeks earlier on the calendar, settling into its permanent date pattern in late May. G2E Las Vegas, the flagship G2E event, will continue in its early October date pattern and return to the Sands Expo and Convention Center for the second year. These changes will space the industry’s largest trade shows evenly throughout the year to the benefit of suppliers and purchasers around the globe.
Communicating the work of the AGA and the gaming industry as a whole is a large part of the AGA’s work, and stakeholders will continue to have the opportunity to engage with the AGA in the social media space through its Twitter feed (@AmerGamingAssn ), its Facebook page www.facebook.com/americangaming  and the premiere of a new AGA blog. These are all great ways to keep up on not only AGA activities, but news from around the industry.
The coming year looks to be a busy one not only in Washington and at the AGA, but for the entire gaming industry. We look forward to working with our members and the broader industry to ensure it is a success.