Money…some say it is the root of all evil. Others blame the lack of it. Historically, money often prompted war and literature, Hollywood and Broadway have used money to promote good and bad themes.
In the 1970s, New York City minister and electronic evangelist Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II, called Reverend Ike, practiced “prosperity theology.“ It promised listeners great wealth in exchange for sending money to his ministries. 
Ike preached, “Money is not the root of all evil. But the lack of money is the root of all evil.” Listeners sent millions, giving Reverend Ike a lavish lifestyle, and doing without themselves.
I view money as a commodity to make life easier, happier and more secure. My whole family has always worked very hard to make a good living. While I enjoy many activities, I have never been a frivolous spender with either my money or my employer’s. 
Why am I discussing money? Because money has been the foundation of the US casino industry’s expansion. Money has resolved many issues like employment, taxes and regulations, not to mention rescuing some desperate jurisdictions. 
Since the early 1990s, many states have viewed gaming as a necessary economic engine, however distasteful. They passed legislation after governors and legislators realized that gaming could save their depleted treasuries and maybe their careers. 
Fortunately, two profitable decades have seen the public support hundreds of properties in dozens of states. This month, I analyze American gaming in 2015, driven primarily by the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) numerous new programs and initiatives. 
In office only 18 months, AGA President/CEO Geoff Freeman is an aggressive, persuasive force. He constantly reminds politicians that casinos benefits their constituents by generating $240 trillion in economic activity nationwide and employing 1.7 million American jobs at last count in 2013. These constituents, especially those seniors on limited incomes, who invest in gaming stocks can also earn a windfall when casinos do well.
However, money also carries pitfalls. Freeman‘s proactive staff regularly battles negatives like money laundering, illegal gambling and illegal sports betting, claiming these unlawful activities rob legal gaming of its economic potential. 
They are right…protecting the industry’s integrity and workforce should always win out. The millions who work and invest in these companies expect them to be responsible, profitable and honest. 
American casinos and suppliers are filled with thousands of employees who have good work ethics, pay their taxes and aim for a solid middle-class life. Their talents and commitment should be rewarded with admiration and financial compensation they can keep.
At his annual January “State of the Union” address, President Obama repeated his “income inequality” and “everyone should pay their fair share” mantra. I want equal opportunity for all, but object to someone else defining acceptable, equal outcomes. Income inequality usually happens because people have different strengths, education and ambition and have made different sacrifices. 
In the early years, because the casino industry on a mass scale was relatively new, there was a limited executive pool. How many current executives or managers started as dealers, cashiers, or waiters? 
Although they began as equals with colleagues, those who got promotions often worked longer hours, relocated if necessary and made personal sacrifices. They’ve earned their money and I applaud their efforts. 
This year money and equal opportunity will again make news but with a twist. Legal vs illegal immigration remains a divisive issue, along with securing the southern US/Mexico border. For decades, millions have illegally crossed the border to find American jobs, often without proper documentation. 
In response, President Obama just signed a controversial executive action. It protects approximately four million of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants, currently living and working in the US, from deportation. Because these immigrants often have children who by their birth in America are legal citizens, they must meet specific conditions to stay. 
Nevada will experience the greatest possible repercussions since 8% of its population – the nation’s highest – fit that category. Will a potential flood of new workers influence casino jobs and salaries? I suspect any significant employment changes will sway the public’s reaction.
In reality, opinions may be politically motivated rather than honestly felt. As University of Virginia Center for Politics Director Dr. Larry J. Sabato says, “Party lines determine reactions. Democrats love Obama’s executive actions; Republicans loathe them. Going into 2016, people should know the next president can change executive orders, which are inferior to actual laws passed and signed by Congress”.
We’ll see what happens. I suspect public opinion will follow the money. 

Advertisement
0