The revenue of Horseshoe and Live! casinos were each down more than 16 percent last year compared to 2016. MGM National Harbor in Prince George's County has shifted the competitive landscape in the state. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)

Enthusiasm for gaming is at an all-time high here in the region, and for good reason. The success of this industry — which now has six casinos across the state — has benefited all corners of Maryland.

As just one example, the growth of gaming over the last decade has resulted in $3 billion in gaming tax revenue going into the Maryland Education Trust, including an all-time high of $540 million in fiscal year 2019, to support early education services, public elementary and secondary education, and construction and capital improvement projects.

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It is especially meaningful for me, as a lifelong Marylander, to lead a national industry that has not only delivered economic growth across the country, but right here in our great state. In fact, Maryland’s gaming properties employ more than 15,000 people, resulting in $713 million in wages that support individuals and families.

People play the slot machines at the MGM National Harbor resort and casino.
People play the slot machines at the MGM National Harbor resort and casino. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Central to the growth of Maryland gaming is the industry’s full-time commitment to responsible gaming. Every year the gaming industry proudly comes together for Responsible Gaming Education Week (RGEW). For this year’s RGEW, which kicked off yesterday, the American Gaming Association (AGA) is pleased to join with the Maryland gaming community to reflect on the work done, every day, to promote responsibility from Baltimore City to Allegany County and suburban D.C. to the Eastern Shore.

We take our duty to promote responsible gaming seriously. Members of the AGA adhere to a strict Responsible Gaming Code of Conduct, a prerequisite for association membership and the standard by which all gaming operators in the U.S. should be measured. Like their peers across the country, Maryland operators go beyond this code, contributing millions to statewide responsible gaming programs and working together to share best practices and evolve their own programs as part of the Maryland Alliance on Responsible Gaming.

By partnering with the Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling, a program of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the Maryland gaming industry is advancing the understanding of problem gaming while promoting healthy and informed gaming choices. It is state-level partnerships such as these that led AGA to convene stakeholders, academics and renowned thought leaders in forming the Responsible Gambling Collaborative, which will identify programs and policies that address responsible gaming issues, inclusive of state-based developments happening every day in research communities in places like College Park and Baltimore.

As others wait their turn, Konjo Moges spins a gaming wheel in 2016 as part of her interview during a job fair to staff MGM National Harbor.
As others wait their turn, Konjo Moges spins a gaming wheel in 2016 as part of her interview during a job fair to staff MGM National Harbor. (Mel Evans)

Our investment in responsible gaming goes hand-in-hand with the great work of gaming regulators. In Maryland and across the country, regulators are our ongoing partners in creating a safe environment to play and combating problem gambling head-on.

Importantly, these efforts are working. A recent AGA survey found that 90% of avid and casual casino voters not only set a budget for their gaming activity on property but are also aware of responsible gaming resources available to them. We are encouraged that our coordinated efforts to inform and educate customers is resonating as we continue to partner with the broader clinical and academic community to address problem gaming.

As the Maryland gaming industry continues to thrive, our commitment to responsible gaming must remain our highest priority.

Bill Miller (bmiller@americangaming.org) is the president and chief executive officer of the American Gaming Association and a lifelong Montgomery County resident.

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