As life changes, we must adapt. Living only within our own comfort levels leads to complacency and by remaining stagnant, we risk being left behind. How do we navigate between going slow and steady versus the race going to the swiftest? In video games‘ early days, our company made very good money from Pac-Man and other games. Many customers mistakenly thought that if two machines were profitable, wouldn’t four or six earn even more? Our office always battled that premise. We understood that the location’s fragile environment could create behavioral problems from the kids playing the games. We preferred moderate, continuous successes over a moneymaking, short tumultuous run and losing it all. We were right. Too often we sacrificed the public’s trust and the location when problems hit. We believed then, and I believe now, that proactive effectiveness means being smart and methodical. American Gaming Association (AGA) CEO Geoff Freeman has applied that philosophy to AGA’s operation and growth. His staff has strategized on how to develop permanent positive policies and changes over fleeting ones. Information to the public is empowering and Geoff frequently informs nationwide media outlets via phone conference calls. I regularly participate and they never disappoint. We are updated about how AGA is accurately spreading the good word. When he takes questions, I always have at least one. Gaming in 2015 looks active and ambitious, starting with an all-out campaign to improve its Washington D.C. presence and open more inclusive membership opportunities. The group counts five new board and six new general member companies, including international organizations and Indian tribes. Geoff said, “The AGA’s Number One priority is to unite the gaming industry. The budding coalescence of the gaming industry and wave of interest in the AGA strengthens our ability to share gaming’s story and effectively advocate in Washington, state capitols and developing gaming markets around the globe.” He’s right…if you snooze, you lose. For example, the International Revenue Service (IRS) has yet again come up short on common sense by proposing to drop the $1,200 federal reporting threshold on specific gaming wins down to $600. Mandated in the late 1970s, if anything, an intelligent inflationary adjustment would raise it to $4,600, not go backwards. The AGA is not waiting for potentially devastating consequences as the IRS constantly seeks revenue sources. Forming the AGA Tax Working Group, senior tax representatives from member companies will work to get ahead of negative repercussions. Besides additional bookkeeping burdens on gaming companies, states would lose millions in taxes as players reconsider exposing themselves to tax reporting on such a small amount. History repeats itself. The Clinton administration’s 1994 proposed four per cent gross receipts federal gambling tax motivated the formation of the AGA. Under former AGA President/CEO Frank Fahrenkopf, the AGA united as an industry. The alliance proved invaluable and the AGA became a power player. Today, American gaming generates $240 billion, supports 1.7 million jobs and generates $38 billion in taxes across 40 states. We have amazing clout, which is why the new AGA “Gaming Votes” initiative could have fascinating consequences for the 2016 presidential race. In key presidential states like Iowa, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, gaming supports 500,000-plus jobs and generates $75 billion. To counteract the candidates‘ policies when their identity and economic politics target groups for their race, gender, ethnicity and occupations over substance, the AGA wants to educate them about gaming. Casino employment opportunities span more than 200 different careers tracks, including high-tech, engineering, software development, compliance and law enforcement. Another 62,000 will be added within 10 years. Unemployed millennials should know that one-third of the gaming workforce is under 30. Gaming’s diversity – 45% are racial or ethnic minorities – is unmatched in most industries. For the voters, the AGA also wants to educate casino employees about candidates‘ issue positions, especially as they impact gaming. Almost two million-mostly middle class-employees’ livelihoods depend on a thriving gaming industry and economy. I’ve seen too many voters choose unqualified and incompetent people they consider cool or make promises or belong to the “correct” political party. Enough…it’s time to ensure our industry members are knowledgeable when they cast their votes and will demand accountability from these politicians. I support whatever method the AGA uses to inform a too-often oblivious electorate. Good luck to Geoff and the AGA as they tackle sports and illegal betting, “Next Generation” business, homeland security and money laundering issues.