AGA Boosts Skill Training Bill, Holds Discussion

The American Gaming Association announced support for a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would boost training to help immigrant workers develop skills, while conducting a roundtable discussion with gaming experts.

New bipartisan legislation introduced last week in the U.S. House of Representatives would promote programs that many casino gaming companies already implement to help workers boost their language skills, further their education and apply for citizenship.

The American Gaming Association applauded the introduction of the New Americans Success Act of 2015 by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) and Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-California) that improves immigrants’ access to English language and civic programs to help them fully contribute to society and the nation’s economy.

“Casinos across the country rely on the many hard-working employees who are new to the United States, and we’re pleased to provide programs that help them succeed,” said Sara Rayme, AGA’s senior vice president of public affairs. “The casino gaming industry is proud to lead the way in supporting workers of all backgrounds and experiences who seek a path to the middle class.”

Casino gaming companies provide robust benefits programs that include citizenship assistance, continuing education and language workshops. Oxford Economics, in a report released earlier this year, detailed the various employee benefits programs companies provide. Through one program, for example, employees receive a salary advance to help pay the citizenship application fee, free Rosetta Stone English-as-a-second-language classes and access to free workshops with leading immigration attorneys and representatives from the United States Customs and Immigration Services field office.

Casinos have helped hundreds of gaming employees become citizens.

The Oxford report, “Gaming Careers: Gateway to the Middle Class,” also found that few industries employ as diverse a workforce as gaming. Forty-five percent of gaming’s workforce is composed of racial or ethnic minority employees, far more than the U.S. average of 33 percent. Twenty percent of gaming employees are Hispanic, compared to the national average of 15 percent.

In other AGA news, the organization hosted a roundtable discussion last week for nearly a dozen gaming academics and experts. “We convened this group to share ideas, present recent work and network with peers in a setting that does not exist anywhere else,” said Rayme. “Additionally, as part of the AGA’s multi-year public affairs campaign, ‘Get to Know Gaming,’ it provided an opportunity to outline the AGA’s policy platform and priorities and to identify potential opportunities for future engagement.

Attendees included:

• Dr. Jay Albanese, Virginia Commonwealth University

• Dr. Clyde Barrow, University of Texas – Rio Grand Valley

• Dr. James Karmel, Harford Community College

• Dr. Joseph Kelly, SUNY College at Buffalo

• Dr. Steven Light, University of North Dakota

• Rev. Richard McGowan, Boston College

• Dr. Alan Meister, Nathan Associates, Inc.

• Dean Kathryn Rand, University of North Dakota

• Dr. David Schwartz, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

• Professor Alan Silver, Ohio University

• Dr. Brian Tyrrell, Stockton University

The daylong discussion included topics such as gaming history, lotteries and casino gaming, fantasy sports and sports betting, illegal gambling and criminal networks and casino gaming’s impact on national, regional and niche markets.

Rayme said the AGA is planning on expanding its network of industry experts.