Pittsburgh, PA – In the wake of an unprecedented proposal by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to tax casino promotional credits – the equivalent of grocery store coupons – the American Gaming Association (AGA) and Rivers Casino today touted the unmatched economic and other benefits of casino gaming on the Pittsburgh community, Allegheny County and across the Commonwealth.
WATCH THE VIDEO: Roundtable discussion
During a tour of the casino and a roundtable discussion, local elected officials, community leaders and industry employees spoke of Rivers’ commitment – which reflects the industry’s at large – to workforce development training, charitable giving, inclusive hiring and serving as a strong community partner. Each year, Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos provide more than $6 billion in economic impact, support more than 33,000 jobs and generate $2.4 billion in tax revenue.
“Bad public policy, such as the proposal to tax promotional credits, is a direct result of a misunderstanding of the many ways in which gaming is contributing to Pittsburgh and communities across Pennsylvania,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA. “Today’s event paints a portrait of exactly how Rivers and the gaming industry serve as strong community partners, whether it’s through providing good jobs, generating customers for small businesses or contributing generously to charitable organizations.”
In addition to Freeman, participants in the tour and panel discussion included:
- Craig Clark, general manager, Rivers Casino Pittsburgh;
- Carol Philp, president and CEO, CPI Creative; and
- Valerie Njie, executive director/senior vice president, Bidwell Training Center, Inc.
In February, Governor Wolf proposed a new tax on promotional credit marketing programs, an important tool for casinos that incentivize customers to increase their real-money wagering, spur increased visitation and empower casinos to respond to market conditions, customers’ preferences and the broader economic environment. Promotional credit marketing programs in casinos are no different than grocery store coupons, which are widely used to attract more customers to purchase and consume more goods.
AGA promptly replied with a letter to the Governor, saying that “taxing promotional credits would likely lead to a decrease in tax revenue from casinos – the exact opposite of the intended result. Taxing Pennsylvania casinos’ promotional credit programs will be an economic deterrent to casinos offering such incentives, and consequently, result in a decrease in patron play and lower tax revenues generated for state and local governments.”
The event was held as part of AGA’s nationwide Gaming Votes initiative, which is educating presidential candidates about the important role gaming plays in communities across the country. The effort is also informing gaming employees in Pennsylvania and elsewhere about where the candidates stand on gaming; in January, AGA distributed its first-ever voter guide to one million gaming employees across 40 states.
The event provided a snapshot of the various ways in which the gaming industry benefits Pennsylvania, from small businesses, to individual employees to the overall local economy.
“The gaming industry, and especially Rivers Casino, provides a tremendous opportunity to grow our great city,” said Jake Wheatley, State Representative for Allegheny County. “Since opening its doors in 2009, Rivers Casino has been a job creator, an economic engine and an exemplary partner in our local community. That is why I believe that the presidential candidates vying for our votes understand the powerful impact this industry has on the City of Pittsburgh and the Keystone State.”
Since launching the Gaming Votes initiative at the beginning of last year, AGA has held events with community leaders, gaming employees and members of Congress in Las Vegas, Iowa, Ohio and Colorado. Casino gaming supports more than half-a-million jobs and contributes $75 billion to local communities in key presidential states including Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania.