Safe, responsible casino gaming supports state economies at crucial time
Safely reopening businesses and ensuring patrons are protected are essential to reigniting the country’s economy. That includes the casino gaming industry, a critical contributor to the economies of both of our home states. U.S. gaming operators have gone to great lengths to modify their facilities and implement policies to protect the health of workers and customers. As they meet this challenge, they must also remain focused on one of the most important priorities: ensuring guests engage in gaming responsibly.
Sept. 13 marks the start of Responsible Gaming Education Week, a nationwide observance to highlight responsible gaming efforts and educate employees and customers alike. During this week, the American Gaming Association brings together operators, regulators, advocacy groups, and other key stakeholders to promote responsible play and raise awareness about problem gambling.
While Responsible Gaming Education Week is an opportunity to spotlight these efforts, legal gaming companies work to promote responsible gaming year-round. The industry invests millions of dollars annually and works closely with the country’s more than 4,000 gaming regulators to protect patrons and promote responsible gaming every day.
This work has never been more important. More Americans are accessing mobile gambling platforms while staying at home, and millions of Americans are under greater stress due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is critical that we ensure people understand how to play responsibly and that those in need of assistance can access it. That’s why we support the ongoing efforts to develop and distribute educational materials, conduct extensive employee training to spot problem gamblers, and fund research on effective prevention and treatment measures.
Gaming’s growth into a national industry and major economic driver could never have been achieved without this clear commitment to responsible gaming. Elected officials in 44 states plus the District of Columbia have now legalized casino gaming or sports betting, a strong sign of confidence in the industry’s efforts to make gaming safe and responsible.
We welcome Responsible Gaming Education Week because gaming plays a major role in supporting economic growth and job creation in both our states. Before COVID-19, gaming supported 1 in 4 jobs in Nevada and employed more than 400,000 people. In Pennsylvania, the industry supported more than 33,000 jobs.
Gaming also contributes $2.5 billion in annual taxes in Pennsylvania and nearly $1 billion in Nevada. These funds support schools, infrastructure, and first responders and alleviate the tax burden for families and residents. Gaming taxes also directly fund problem gambling services and additional public health efforts to ensure individuals who need help have access to it.
Sports betting, a longtime betting option for Nevadans, has exploded in popularity across the country, including in Pennsylvania, where local regulators and policymakers are making sure the industry’s responsible gaming efforts grow along with it.
We believe strongly that encouraging consumers to enter a well-regulated gaming market is far superior to pushing them towards a black market where problem gambling is more likely to run rampant. For its part, the American Gaming Association and its members launched a new national public service campaign to educate both experienced sports bettors and new customers on responsible wagering. The goal is to encourage sports fans to understand their bets, know the odds, and play only with legal, regulated operators.
Of course, the pandemic has had an enormous impact on people whose jobs depend on gaming, forcing the closure of all 991 casinos nationwide and exacting a major toll on local economies. We believe that the return of the gaming industry will be a key component of our communities’ recoveries. Responsible Gaming Education Week is a timely reminder that gaming is available again in many communities and can be enjoyed safely and responsibly.
Rep. Dina Titus represents Nevada’s 1st District. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler represents Pennsylvania’s 14th District. Together, they serve as co-chairs of the Congressional Gaming Caucus, a bipartisan group of more than 30 members of Congress from across the country, convened to discuss federal policy issues related to the U.S. casino industry and educate congressional colleagues on related regulatory and legislative matters.
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