Several key leaders meet in Council Bluffs to discuss the impacts of the gaming industry.
Members of the American Gaming Association, Iowa Gaming Association, Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce, and one member of Congress participated in the round table discussion held at Ameristar Casino Monday afternoon. Topics covered included the economic and tax impacts of the gaming industry as well as its affects locally. Annually, casinos support nearly 17,000 jobs in Iowa and generate $2.5 billion in direct and indirect economic activity. President and CEO of the American Gaming Association Geoff Freeman says the economic impact of gaming is extraordinary.
“As far as the country goes, nearly $250 billion of economic impact and $2.5 billion of that is right here in Iowa along with 17,000 jobs,” Freeman said. “This is an industry that is making a significant difference around the country, but most importantly, it’s making a huge difference right here in Iowa. The gaming industry has been here 25 years at this point and it has certainly exceeded any expectations that people may have had.”
Presidential candidates have been making their way through Iowa as the race for 2016 heats up. Freeman says it’s important for presidential hopefuls to fully understand the gaming industry heading into the election.
“There are still misperceptions of what the gaming industry is such as thoughts that people have of what used to happen in casinos,” Freeman said. “These are mainstream businesses today that are providing important jobs, diverse types of jobs, and employing a disproportionate number of minorities and women. This is an industry that is doing the right thing by Iowa and it’s important that the presidential candidates understand that.”
Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh says the gaming industry has made a huge impact on the city.
“The amount of tax revenue that goes into the state of Iowa, I believe $276 million annually, is a phenomenal number that wasn’t there 20 years ago when the industry started up,” Walsh said. “In Council Bluffs locally, we get about $4 million in tax revenue from the casinos, but what else happens is it causes a ripple effect in the vendor-customer industry.”
Other panelists from the round table discussion included HGM Associates President Ron Tekippe, Ameristar Casino Marketing Manager Kelley Kulesa, Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce President Bob Mundt, and Iowa 3rd District Congressman David Young.
You can view full interviews with American Gaming Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman and Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh by watching the YouTube video (http://youtu.be/zjP4T6uDbgA)