21315_AGAvoterInitiative_300Likely 2016 presidential candidates are already visiting battleground states where casino gaming supports more than half-a-million jobs and contributes $75 billion to local communities. The American Gaming Association (AGA) today launched a national initiative, "Gaming Votes," to ensure presidential candidates understand gaming's vital role in providing middle class jobs and driving economic growth.

Experience the interactive Multimedia News Release here: http://www.multivu.com/players/English/7442251-aga-get-to-know-gaming-votes

Watch today's press conference: http://ow.ly/IYns5

"The 2016 presidential candidates will wage their campaigns in the casino gaming industry's backyards - including at national nominating conventions in the casino cities of Philadelphia and Cleveland next summer," said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA. "Our 'Gaming Votes' initiative will mobilize our workforce, highlight the path to the middle class that our industry provides and emphasize our commitment to strengthening communities across the United States."

The AGA's "Gaming Votes" initiative will feature local events in such battleground states as Iowa, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Ohio and others; give voice to employees building careers in the gaming industry; and detail how our strong local partnerships are helping to rebuild American communities following the Great Recession. Presidential candidates will be encouraged to embrace policies critical to the gaming industry's future, including improving infrastructure, developing a skilled and diverse workforce, promoting innovation and thoroughly reviewing increasing regulatory burdens.

A new Oxford Economics report, "Gaming Careers: A Path to the Middle Class," also released today illustrates the importance of gaming in providing opportunities that otherwise wouldn't exist for hundreds of thousands of voters across the country.

Watch: "Faces of Gaming" anecdotal employee video series

"The research shows that workers who enter the gaming industry and stay to build their careers in gaming tend to become top performers in their occupations and many advance up the career ladder -both in terms of pay and responsibility," said Hamilton Galloway, Oxford Economics' head of U.S. consultancy. "Simply put, there are not many other industries that offer the same opportunities for growth and advancement as gaming does for workers from all backgrounds with a wide variety of skill sets."

Below are highlights from Oxford Economics' report on gaming careers:

    -- Broad range of jobs, with tens of thousands more projected: Gaming
        offers a wealth of career opportunities to workers from all backgrounds
        with a wide variety of skill sets. Gaming employs workers in more than
        200 job classifications, including high-tech, engineering, software
        development and law enforcement, and the industry is expected to add
        more than 62,000 jobs over the next decade.
    -- Highly diverse workforce: Few industries employ as diverse a workforce
        as gaming. Forty-five percent of gaming's workforce is composed of
        racial or ethnic minority employees - far more diverse than the U.S.
        average of 33 percent. Twenty percent of gaming employees are Hispanic,
        compared to the national average of 15 percent. Women make up nearly
        half of gaming's workforce (48 percent) - higher than the national
        average. Gaming also employs people with disabilities (6 percent) at a
        rate above the national average.
    -- Exceptional benefit programs: In addition to on-the-job experience and
        training, many leading gaming companies support continuing education
        programs, offer flexibility for employees to pursue education and
        provide a path to upward mobility. More than 20 percent of gaming
        employees further their education and earn a degree. Many companies also
        provide citizenship assistance, on-site health and wellness, daycare
        centers, fitness centers or gym memberships and other benefits.
    -- Fulfilling careers for millennials: For a generation of people that is
        otherwise struggling to find work - 23.3 percent of workers under 30 are
        unemployed* - gaming offers a path to a fulfilling career. More than a
        third of the gaming workforce is younger than 30, compared to the
        national average of 25 percent. The average age of a gaming employee is
        39 (national average is 42).
    -- Gateway to the middle class: Gaming jobs pay good wages that allow
        workers to provide for themselves and their families. Nearly two-thirds
        of gaming equipment manufacturing workers have a bachelor's degree or
        higher and earn an average annual salary of $75,000. More than a quarter
        of computer and information systems managers in the gaming industry hold
        a master's degree or higher and earn a median salary of $90,000 a year
        (and up to $152,600).

For more information about the Oxford Economics "Faces of Gaming" study, view the report, methodology and fact sheet. The release of the Oxford Economics study is a key component of the AGA's "Get to Know Gaming"campaign -an aggressive effort to promote the value of the gaming industry, combat outdated stereotypes and pave the way for gaming's next generation.

*Annual unemployment rate for 2012, the same period for which the gaming employment data and research figures were analyzed.