If a Washington, D.C.-based casino trade group has anything to say about it, 2016 presidential candidates campaigning in battleground states with casinos won’t be able to avoid addressing the interests of the gaming industry.
The American Gaming Association today unveiled a new national initiative called “Gaming Votes” at the Las Vegas manufacturing facilities of the slot machine maker Aristocrat.
One of the initiative’s main goals is to ensure that presidential candidates understand gaming’s positive impact on the economy and the middle class.
Geoff Freeman, the association’s president, said that in 2016 battleground states, the gaming industry supports more than 500,000 jobs and $75 billion in economic activity. Accordingly, the association plans to “engage and mobilize” gaming employees to see that candidates are up to speed on the issues important to gaming, he said.
“We’re going to call on presidential candidates to become more educated about this industry, to replace myths with facts, and to let these candidates know the gaming industry is a gateway to middle-class jobs,” Freeman said at a press conference promoting the initiative.
“When they’re talking about issues like putting Americans back to work, reforming the regulatory burdens in this country, tax reform, infrastructure — they’re talking about issues important to the gaming industry.”
Through the election initiative, the gaming association hopes to make casinos a focus in battleground states, including Nevada. Freeman said part of the initiative will include educating gaming industry workers about where candidates stand on issues that affect casinos, as well as potentially hosting town halls.
Gaming Votes is also about boosting a positive image for the industry. To that end, association representatives honed in on the diversity among the industry’s workforce.
According to research from Oxford Economics announced in tandem with the launch of the election initiative, the gaming industry employs minorities and women at levels higher than the national average. Oxford found that the industry is 45 percent minorities and 48 percent female.
“This is an amazing tapestry of individuals,” said MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren, who is also chairman of the gaming association. “We come from all walks of life, every possible imaginable perspective, countries, languages, gender — we are the melting pot of America here.” Murren said most of his employees are minorities and women.
In that same vein, the association made videos highlighting the women within gaming’s ranks. One of the people in those videos, Ana Galeski, said she was the first woman manager of the engineering team in Las Vegas when she started at Gaming Laboratories International. “It’s exciting knowing, and seeing firsthand, that more and more women are becoming leaders,” she said.
Gaming Votes is part of a larger effort by the gaming association to hone the casino industry’s public perception. Last year, the association launched its “Get to Know Gaming” campaignand ran ads in Massachusetts while voters were considering a ballot measure that would have banned casinos in the state.
The association also spread around earlier reports from Oxford Economics showing that the casino industry supports 1.7 million jobs nationwide.