Washington, DC – Nevada casinos applauded the announcement today by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that Las Vegas will be eligible to receive $2.9 million to protect the state’s $53 billion gaming industry and the 430,000 Nevadans whose jobs depend on the state’s largest industry.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) has been working with the Nevada congressional delegation, the City of Las Vegas and State officials to educate DHS about the unique security risks Las Vegas faces. AGA delivered a letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson last month outlining these risks and why it should receive significant security funding through DHS’s Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI).
“Federal security funding plays a critical role in ensuring the safety of Nevadans and the more than 40 million people who visit Las Vegas each year,” said Sara Rayme, senior vice president of public affairs for the AGA. “We’re grateful to the Nevada congressional delegation, Governor Sandoval and Mayor Goodman for their strong efforts to ensure Las Vegas received this funding. We appreciate FEMA’s recognition of the unique characteristics that merit Las Vegas receiving these crucial resources.”
In the letter to Secretary Johnson, AGA President and CEO Geoff Freeman emphasized the importance of educating DHS about why Las Vegas requires further security funding through the program:
- Both the Nevada and U.S. Economies Rely on Gaming in Las Vegas. Casino gaming supports $240 billion in national economic impact, 1.7 million U.S. jobs and $38 billion in local, state and federal tax revenues. The safety and security of nearly 200,000 direct gaming employees is paramount to the vitality of the region.
- Las Vegas Attracts Tens of Millions of Tourists from Around the Globe Every Year. In addition to the nearly 2 million residents of the metropolitan area, more than 42 million visitors, including millions internationally, traveled to Las Vegas in 2015, which broke the previous record set the year before.
- Las Vegas is Home to More Hotel Rooms and Conventions than any Other U.S. City. Las Vegas offers 150,000 hotel rooms and hosts 22,000 conventions per year. Average weekend hotel occupancy rates are greater than 90 percent.
- Las Vegas Frequently Hosts High-Profile Special Events. Since the Boston Marathon attacks, special events and high-visibility soft-targets have been increasingly cited in publications by known terrorist organizations as ideal targets. In addition to the daily live entertainment events in high-capacity venues, Las Vegas will host the final U.S. presidential debate just weeks before this year’s general election.
- DHS Should Consider Emerging and New Threats. The Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin spoke at a cybersecurity conference in Las Vegas, where he said, “We are here at the site of the first major nation state-sponsored destructive cyber-attack in the United States….it should now be clear that we are in a new world where national security threats hit the entertainment industry.”
As authorized by the “Homeland Security Act of 2002, as amended” (Homeland Security Act), the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) and the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) provide grant funding to States, territories, urban areas, and local communities to prevent, protect against, respond to, mitigate, and recover from potential terrorist attacks and other hazards.
About AGA: The American Gaming Association is the premier national trade group representing the $240 billion U.S. casino industry, which supports 1.7 million jobs in 40 states. AGA members include commercial and tribal casino operators, suppliers and other entities affiliated with the gaming industry. It is the mission of the AGA to be the single most effective champion of the industry, relentlessly protecting against harmful and often misinformed public policies, and paving a path for growth, innovation and reinvestment.