Washington, DC – As Republican presidential candidates descend upon Cleveland this week, they could be forgiven for not realizing that the casino gaming industry has blossomed into a $2.2 billion industry that supports nearly 14,000 jobs and generates nearly $700 million in tax revenues in Ohio. After all, since Republican candidates last debated ahead of the 2012 election, five gaming properties, including the Horseshoe Cleveland, have opened across the state.
In fact, the Horseshoe Cleveland – located just steps from the site of this week’s debate at Quicken Loans Arena – is a top 15 private sector employer in Cuyahoga County.
“There’s no debate: gaming in Ohio has become a valued community partner in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and beyond,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA). “We invite candidates to meet with voters at casinos and show their support for an economic driver in Ohio while learning about an industry that’s creating thousands of jobs beyond the Las Vegas Strip.”
Here’s a brief sampling of what Ohioans are saying about gaming:
In Columbus, “signs of revival [are] adding up around [the] casino on West Side; businesses open or renovate, and infrastructure improves.” “If it wasn’t for the casino, none of this would have happened,” said the president of the West Side’s economic-development organization.
In Cleveland, gaming was the key to reaching a deal to revitalize Public Square, the central plaza of downtown. “The Public Square transformation is another great example of public and private sectors working together and building the city’s momentum.”
In Toledo, local officials are praising the casino: “Thanks God we at least had the casino.” “A very positive experience.” “It’s attracted visitors we wouldn’t normally get.” “Casino revenue has filled a significant void.” “It certainly is an asset to us.”
In Cincinnati, a local tourism official raved about the impact of the casino: “You’re talking tens of thousands of room nights and 100,000 more visitors. It’s huge for our local economy.”
With Republicans gearing up for the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland next summer, and with the state expected to once again play a vital role in determining the next president, the AGA is ramping up its efforts to educate candidates about the gaming industry and inform gaming employees – voters – about which candidates support their industry. The first-ever initiative for the industry, called “Gaming Votes,” will include AGA compiling a voting guide for employees ahead of the caucuses, primaries and the general election.
In presidential battleground states, casino gaming supports more than half-a-million jobs and contributes $75 billion to local communities. Further, gaming is providing opportunities for careers and a path to the middle class for workers of all backgrounds and experiences, according to an Oxford Economics report.
The study conducted by Oxford Economics, “Gaming Careers: A Path to the Middle Class,” highlights the more than 200 job classifications gaming provides, including high-tech, engineering, software development and law enforcement, and that the industry is expected to add more than 62,000 jobs over the next decade.
AGA hosted a roundtable event in June with Iowa Congressman David Young and community leaders in Council Bluffs, Iowa to demonstrate the broad support for gaming in the early-voting state. A Davenport, Iowa-based research firm also released new polling showing that a majority of likely Iowa caucus-goers, ranging from very conservative to very liberal, support casinos and prefer a candidate who recognizes the economics benefits the industry provides.