As part of the the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) Get to Know Gaming series, gaming industry stakeholders gathered at The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Washington County, Pennsylvania to discuss gaming’s role in the state as a driver of economic growth and a community partner.
Washington County Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Kotula moderated the discussion, beginning by sharing his perspective on gaming’s impact on the local economy, “[The Meadows’ impact] has been substantial. Not only do they employ over 1,000 employees, they also add to our economy, not only in purchasing locally but also in terms of giving back, in terms of community service.”
Bill Miller, AGA president and CEO, framed the discussion with AGA’s research report, Casinos and Communities: Pennsylvania, which was released in conjunction with the panel. Announcing, “Our industry generates $6.3 billion in total economic impact across the Keystone State, providing $1.8 billion in supported wages. Gross gaming revenue taxes alone reached $1.5 billion just last year—this represents 7% of all state sales tax collected throughout Pennsylvania in 2018.”
$6.3 billion in total economic impact
33,171 jobs supported
$1.8 billion in supported wages
$2.5 billion in taxes generated
Representative Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14) corroborated these findings, commenting that gaming has been integral to revitalizing Pittsburgh’s North Shore Neighborhood. Reschenthaler also stressed the need to allow the gaming industry to continue to innovate and keep pace with changing demographics, remarking that, “We can only allow the industry to adapt and to grow if we make sure we’re updating the laws and regulations pertaining to gaming.”
Owner of The Ivy Green florist shop, Melissa Green, gave her firsthand account of gaming’s economic ripple effects, “In a one-mile radius from where my shop is, 10 flower shops were open when I purchased my shop and there’s two left.” Adding, “my partnership with the casino probably has prevented me from becoming one of those statistics.”
Continuing the discussion on community impact, North Strabane Township Fire Department Chief Mark Grimm recounted how his department recently partnered with The Meadows to organize the largest Toys for Tots donation in the area. “We do a lot in the community, and I think that one of the partnerships that we’re most proud of is with the casino because we’re both in business for customer service.”
As the conversation turned toward responsible gaming, Tim Wilmott, AGA chairman and Penn National Gaming CEO, explained, “We work with states to make sure that people can self-identify and self-exclude themselves from coming to the [casinos]…we certainly don’t want to have a business that is predicated on or supported by people that cannot control themselves within our environment.”
Representative Reschenthaler further remarked that, “The industry does a really good job of promoting responsible gaming,” adding that taking gambling out of illegal markets allows states to regulate the market, capture tax revenue, and ensure that people can get help if they need it.
Additional panel topics included sports betting and casino tax rates.
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U.S. Representative (PA-14)
CEO, Penn National Gaming and Chairman, American Gaming Association
Chief, North Strabane Township Fire Department
Owner, The Ivy Green
President and CEO, American Gaming Association
President, County Chamber of Commerce (moderator)