AGA: Smashing ESG

When it comes to sustainability, diversity and responsible operations, the gaming industry is hitting its marks. The American Gaming Association recently completed an assessment of the industry’s ESG efforts, according to AGA VP Cait DeBaun (l.).

AGA: Smashing ESG

The gaming industry has long been an integral member of our communities—serving as economic hubs, partnering with local charities and nonprofits, and generating billions of dollars in tax revenue each year that goes to critical public projects.

Today, however, the bar has been raised for how companies are expected to do business and deliver social good. More than ever, consumers, employees, investors, and policymakers are judging companies based on how they are advancing issues across the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) spectrum.

The gaming industry is responding, with more than two-thirds of American Gaming Association (AGA) member companies reporting more information about ESG issues today than they were just five years ago.

In late 2021, the AGA conducted the first-ever industry-wide assessment of gaming’s ESG efforts. Across four main ESG pillars, the project highlights how gaming companies are taking charge on ESG issues and setting ambitions to continue to grow their commitments.

Advancing Sustainability

Energy consumption has been a priority for operators in the desert of Southern Nevada for years, but now, gaming companies across the country are placing a heightened emphasis on reducing resource consumption and deploying alternative energy solutions.

  • Several companies have set targets of net zero emissions in the coming years, including Entain (2035), Global Payments (2040), TransUnion (2025), and Wynn (2050).
  • From 2017 to 2019, Boyd Gaming reduced its carbon emissions by more than 2 percent, equivalent to the emissions of more than 1.1 million gallons of gasoline.
  • Las Vegas Sands’ ECO360 program is driving a comprehensive sustainability solution for the company by implementing green buildings, responsible operations, and green meetings and events.
Strengthening Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI)

AGA members are strengthening DEI at all levels of their organizations, elevating equity of opportunity, and supporting social justice efforts in their communities and across the country.

  • In 2019, the All-In Diversity Project recognized IGT as one of the highest-ranking participants in its annual benchmarking of inclusion, and at companies like AGS, 50 percent of leaders on the senior executive team are people of color.
  • In November 2021, Penn National Gaming announced a $4 million commitment to fund a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Scholarship Program in partnership with historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) in states where the company operates.
  • During the pandemic, MGM Resorts’ Supplier Diversity Mentorship Program has supported more than 100 diverse small business suppliers through workshops and seminars relating to growth in turbulent times.
Investing in Communities

Gaming companies are upping the ante on giving back to their communities—spurring economic development, delivering in times of crisis, expanding education programs, and partnering on various philanthropic initiatives.

  • Delaware North has donated $1 million in West Memphis, Ark to establish a hospitality training program that has already awarded 170 degrees.
  • With a $1M donation, FanDuel established the FanDuel-Washington Commander Emergency Student Aid Fund to provide financial support to students enrolled in Virginia’s five HBCUs.
  • Across 2021, Aristocrat’s Employee Relief Fund delivered more than $186,000 in grants to support a total of 247 employees.
Responsible Leadership

Responsible leadership in our communities starts with investing in responsible gaming, but also extends to establishing rigorous business and supply chain standards.

  • GeoComply has established an independent nonprofit arm, Conscious Gaming, that leverages innovation and technology to enhance responsible gaming initiatives, such as setting out to establish a national self-exclusion program.
  • In 2022, DraftKings launched its State Council Funding Program, a new responsible gaming initiative offering every state problem gambling council $15,000 per year for three years—representing a commitment of more than $1.5 million.
  • Seminole Hard Rock has trained more than 27,000 team members to detect and respond to signs of human trafficking.

The findings demonstrate our deep commitment to advancing sustainability, strengthening DEI, investing in communities, and leading responsibly. Our members’ efforts are improving the planet, gaming communities, and our employee and customer experience.

This is just a starting point for the AGA and our members. The AGA will use the findings to drive honest conversations among our membership—and the industry broadly—about strengths and opportunities to improve. Working together, this initiative will only make the gaming industry stronger.

Articles by Author: Cait DeBaun

Cait DeBaun is Vice President, Strategic Communications & Responsibility for the American Gaming Association.