For Las Vegas gaming companies, giving’s a given, study suggests

On the green felt tables and spinning roulette wheels, gaming companies thrive by understanding the power of odds and the limits of fortune. But a new study shows that when philanthropy and volunteerism are concerned, Las Vegas casino companies leave nothing to chance.

Its conclusion: The gaming industry considers charitable giving a pillar of its business practice and philosophy.

The first-of-its-kind study was released in February by the American Gaming Association, the casino industry’s nonprofit lobbying arm, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, a nonprofit group aiming to bolster America’s long-term competitiveness.

The 36-page report examined corporate social responsibility in two key areas: employee and community engagement, and sustainability. These rubrics included several subcategories: recycling and carbon emissions, for example, fell under sustainability; employee volunteering and matching fell under employee and community engagement, as did charitable foundations.

Elvis, from Legends in Concert, plays in Piff the Magic Dragon’s “Piff’s Ping Pong Pifftacular” tournament on Wednesday, June 20, 2018 at the Beach Club at Flamingo Las Vegas. All proceeds of the tournament benefit students of Mission High School, a comprehensive secondary school designed for students in recovery from substance abuse, use or dependency. (Mark Damon/Las Vegas News Bureau)

The study’s data derive from an online survey of 15 association-member respondents, in-person interviews and research in and out of the casino industry conducted from July to September 2018. Association-member respondents included manufacturers, commercial, and tribal gambling operators comprising 168 U.S. member properties or locations, 235,352 U.S. employees and $33 billion in revenue.

A credits page in the study shows a passel of Las Vegas companies joined in the research, including Boyd Gaming Corp., Caesars Entertainment Corp, Las Vegas Sands Corp., MGM Resorts International, Scientific Games and Wynn Resorts Ltd. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas also contributed.

“A lot of this corporate social responsibility activity is happening in Nevada,” says Elizabeth Cronan, the American Gaming Association’s senior director of gaming policy. “Las Vegas is already a leader in this space, and this report is helping to give the companies leading these efforts the important recognition they deserve.”

The study found that gaming companies donated $367 million and devoted 42,000 hours (equaling 4.8 full years) to charitable giving in 2017.

When scaled to revenue, the report said, gaming’s giving rate (0.11 percent), surpassed the private sector (0.08 percent) and other consumer discretionary companies (0.06 percent).

Also, the study found, AGA member respondents distributed $367 million through charitable giving. That’s $23 million per respondent, on average, outpacing the $16 million for consumer discretionary companies as reported by a Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy study.

The AGA-U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation study estimated that almost 30,000 employees volunteered at U.S.-based AGA-member organizations, donating an average of 14 hours of time in 2017. By contrast, the study found, workers for U.S. consumer discretionary companies donated an average of three hours.

The association-member companies polled make it easy for staffs to contribute cash to corporate social responsibility — 86 percent have formal employee charitable giving programs. Nevertheless, Cronan says, seeing companies act charitably encourages staff to follow suit.

Caesars Palace Mesa Grill employee Juan Salazar loads finished meals into travel boxes as part of a volunteer effort at Three Square food bank on Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. (Mark Damon/Las Vegas News Bureau)

“It’s important for the (gaming) industry to be a strong community partner and for employees to see direct examples of the types of the community investments it’s making,” Cronan says, “whether that’s donating to food banks or helping create new homes for people in need through Habitat for Humanity.”

As it aids communities, corporate social responsibility engenders employee loyalty, the study suggested. The research cited a 2017 America’s Charities survey showing that 71 percent of polled employees said they want to work for companies that have values aligning with their own.

Cronan says she expects Las Vegas gaming companies to continue developing new ways to be socially responsible.

“I expect these efforts to continue to grow,” she says. “The companies have the programs in place, and they’re enhancing and will continue to build on the strong foundation they have built.”

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by Matthew Crowley/Contributor to Las Vegas Newswire

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