It was time to show the political officials that we were good corporate citizens and that harming the gaming industry would harm their voting constituents.
Now that we have lined their pockets it was time to remove the target and stigma of the gaming industry. We had to remove the predator mentality. So, we made a public statement in 2001 with our Code of Commitment. In the original Code it defined our commitment to sharing our financial success in the communities we operate by donating a portion of the company profits to charitable causes. The Code also gave us the platform to recognize that not all patrons gamble responsibly and to introduce us as the first company in the gaming industry to partner with the National Center for Responsible Gaming to help combat gambling addiction and provide training to our employees on the topic.
That covers the money and social responsibility for the gaming industry, but the target remained. We watched what happened with the tobacco industry being banned from advertising and we knew we had to act quickly. It was like a steamroller as most states in the United States had a budget deficit challenge to overcome. The gaming industry much like the tobacco industry are hit up hard for taxes as they are considered unnecessary or unhealthy to residents of their state. Think about that for a minute. The state governments want the tax revenue, but they do not want the industry in their state. It was our job to educate them about the fact that you cannot take from the cookie jar and in turn discredit the existence of an industry that is supporting job growth, infrastructure, schools and state programs for their residents. Of course, you must do this is the way that makes everyone feel good.
“You cannot take from the cookie jar and in turn discredit the existence of an industry that is supporting job growth, infrastructure, schools and state programs for their residents.”
In walks Dr. Feelgood. We had to change the perception of the industry as a whole and we were off to a good start. Visibility was what we needed as the money and social responsibility only touches a select few and we needed the masses to see the gaming industry doing good things and not just taking money from people.
By this time the department had grown to about half a dozen people and it was time to show the political officials in a public way that we were good corporate citizens and that harming the gaming industry would harm their voting constituents. In comes my next role. We had a workforce of 100,000 across the United States and what better way to be a united front than to inspire employees to volunteer in the local communities in which we operated. This was the rebirth of Harrah’s Entertainment Reaching Out (HERO) that was on life support. It was my responsibility to work with a representative at each of the 26 locations to coordinate nationwide volunteer efforts on a united front. With a pool of 100,000 employees it did not take long to make a national marketing splash. We quickly started tallying tens of thousands of volunteer hours to deserving targeted charitable organizations throughout the United States. It made it very difficult for political officials to pigeonhole the gaming industry as an industry that is damaging to the lives of their residents as many of the residents were employees of the gaming industry. They were now singing a different tune. Now that we had their attention, we had to take it to the next level and start to drop multi-million-dollar donations to nationally recognizable charitable organizations. Job number three, batters up.