Tuesday, May 27, 2014 | 7:53 a.m.
WASHINGTON — Tired of negative stereotypes and high taxes, one of gaming’s most prominent trade associations is going on the offensive.
The American Gaming Association is launching an aggressive campaign today aimed at promoting gaming’s positive benefits for the growing number of communities hosting casinos.
“I think the companies do an excellent job at telling their own story,” said Sara Rayme, AGA’s senior vice president for public affairs. “But from the association’s perspective, we need to tell the full picture of what gaming means to communities and the economic impact that it has.”
So AGA is throwing “significant resources” in the “high six to seven figures” into its “Get to Know Gaming” campaign.
It’s a multiyear effort to try to convince policy makers and opinion leaders that gaming is a mainstream business that should be treated like any other job creator.
The campaign comes as casinos are enjoying the results of a 20-year expansion, with all but two states having some form of legalized gaming.
In 2012, a third of Americans visited a casino and half of Americans participated in some sort of gaming, according to the AGA.
But gambling’s image hasn’t yet shifted in the eyes of policy makers. Through regulations and “punitive” taxes, wary communities have stymied the industry’s ability to innovate and grow, Rayme said.
“We really need to show that we’re like any other business, any other industry that’s out there,” she said.
One of the group’s major pushes will begin in the next few weeks, when AGA officials release a nationwide survey they say reveals everyday Americans are casino customers.
“We’ll be pushing back with research that shows the stereotypes are not rooted in any sort of fact,” she said.
AGA also hopes to spread its message via community members who have benefitted from casino revenue, such as law enforcement officials and teachers. The hope is communities will embrace casinos as yet another economic driver.
“Our goal through this campaign is those people who say, ‘The sky is falling, the sky is falling;’ they’re going to turn around and see when casinos come to their communities, the amazing amount of positive impact that it’s had,” Rayme said.