Ahead of this evening’s Democratic Presidential Debate in Las Vegas, AGA President and CEO Bill Miller has penned an open letter to the Democratic presidential candidates, calling attention to the important role the gaming industry plays in the 2020 elections.

Taking place from 9pm to 11pm Eastern time, former New York Mayor Michael R Bloomberg (pictured) will join five other Democratic candidates: Senator Bernie Sanders; former Vice President Joseph R Biden Jr; Senator Elizabeth Warren; former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend; and Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Miller wrote: “To the candidates and their campaigns, let me be the first to welcome you to the gaming industry’s hometown and introduce you to an industry that’s more than bright neon lights. The upcoming Democratic primary debate presents an opportunity for you to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the casino gaming industry, an economic juggernaut in Nevada and increasingly across the country.”

He added: “Today’s gaming industry is not only a great source of entertainment, but also an economic driver, community partner, and major taxpayer in 43 states. We are a $261bn industry that is so much more than the casino floor.

“As president of the trade group representing the US casino industry, I have seen first-hand the deep engagement and impact we have in communities across America. There’s the fire chief in western Pennsylvania who used proceeds from gaming taxes to purchase new fire trucks and replace outdated life-saving equipment. 

“There are the casino employees who helped get the Gulf Coast back on its feet after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, even though their properties were severely affected by the storms, too. In southern Nevada, the industry is at the forefront of sustainable business practices and has adopted water conservation programs at nearly twice the rate of other private sector businesses.”

Miller went on to outline how gaming generates $40.79bn in taxes to local, state, and federal governments for infrastructure, education, and other needed investments. “When gaming enters a new market, whether with a new property or a new offering like legalized sports betting, the industry does so without subsidies and pays significant taxes for the privilege. We’re adding to, not subtracting from, the bottom line.

“The more business owners, local leaders, and community members know of the gaming industry, the deeper and broader our support becomes. Nearly half of American adults expect to visit a casino in the next year and attitudes towards gaming among the American public have never been more positive. Close to 90% of Americans see gaming as a mainstream entertainment option. 

“Part of that is driven by the industry’s clear commitment to responsibility. From ensuring all patrons have the tools they need to engage in our offerings in a responsible manner to the innovative approaches our properties bring to sustainability efforts, responsibility is integrated into all that we do.”

He concluded: “The gaming industry is a sophisticated industry hidden in plain sight. As candidates make their case to Nevadans and the country, I hope they will also use their visit to the Silver State to learn more about the gaming industry and the significant contributions to our nation’s economy, the quality jobs it sustains, and the exciting entertainment experience we provide to millions of Americans.”