You probably know the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM) and see its members’ work on display in casinos and at trade shows. But AGEM is much more than just a trade association representing gaming manufacturers. As its mission statement says, through political action, trade show partnerships, information dissemination and good corporate citizenship, the members of AGEM work to further the interests of its member companies and the industry at large. And this past year AGEM made a big difference in the lives of many who needed it. Donating to and sponsoring the causes that benefit the industry, from its annual Golf Classic to problem gambling donations and even a university scholarship program, AGEM is committed to making a difference.
You’ll notice that the cover shot of this magazine is AGEM’s officers at Cascata golf course near Las Vegas. This is also the site of the gaming industry’s most important annual golf tournament, the AGEM-AGA Golf Classic presented by JCM Global. Proceeds of the tournament go to the National Center for Responsible Gambling (NCRG). AGEM has contributed $50,000 annually since 2009 to serve as the title sponsor and will continue in that role through at least 2014. In May of this year, AGEM and the industry worked together to raise a record $133,000, contributing to an all-time total of more than $1 million over the 14 years of the tournament.
In a press release, Alan Feldman, chairman of the NCRG and senior vice president of public affairs at MGM Resorts International, commented: “Hitting the $1 million mark is an incredible accomplishment. The NCRG is grateful for the continued support of AGEM, the AGA, JCM Global and the tournament’s players and sponsors. The money raised will help us fund more of the highest-quality research and education programs about gambling disorders and responsible gaming than ever before.”
AGEM President Thomas A. Jingoli added: “AGEM and our 115-plus member companies from around the world are extremely supportive of this event and the positive impact it has on the gaming industry’s overall efforts to build on the important work being done by the NCRG. This month, the AGEM board of directors unanimously agreed to renew AGEM’s title sponsorship of the event for another two years. Beyond the substantial financial commitment, AGEM and our members will be working closely with the superb team at JCM to ensure the event’s continued success.”
But this is only one of the many causes AGEM works with and supports. Its annual contributions include donations of $40,000 to the National Council on Problem Gambling (whose mission is to “increase public awareness of pathological gambling, ensure the widespread availability of treatment for problem gamblers and their families, and to encourage research and programs for prevention and education”) and $10,000 to the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling (who works “to generate awareness, promote education and advocate for quality treatment of problem gambling in the state of Nevada”).
AGEM also makes an annual contribution of $50,000 to the Problem Gambling Center in Las Vegas. Marcus Prater, executive director of AGEM, explained that this is a treatment facility problem gamblers in Nevada can go to when there’s nowhere else to turn. State funding in Nevada for problem gambling initiatives is comparatively low, so this donation is quite meaningful to the association.
Dr. Robert Hunter, founder and clinical director, there shared with CEM just what the donations have meant to them. Hunter explained that the Problem Gambling Center is the largest gambling treatment center in the country, and certainly the largest and oldest in Las Vegas, which means they’re busy people with more work than they can handle. “Gambling is a real addiction; it’s related to drug and alcohol addiction,” he said. “Some people just plain can’t gamble. Those are our people.”
The money from AGEM allowed the Problem Gambling Center to open a second treatment group (there is now a group in the morning and another in the evening) so that those with day jobs can still get the help they need. “We have to be available 24 hours a day and provide the basic gambling treatment, but we also do outreach and family member work and consulting, some prevention work,” Hunter explained.
“We think the world of them,” Hunter said of AGEM. “Marcus really gets it. He sat in groups personally, listened to the stories and brought our material back to AGEM. You can tell he’s got a legitimate compassion for our patients.”
Krista Creelman, executive director at the Problem Gambling Center, shared that: “If we didn’t have that funding from AGEM, there would be a lot of clients we wouldn’t be able to see and we’d have to turn people away. They’ve allowed us to be able to reach a larger client base and help more people.”
Also of note, gold member IGT is another top donor to this organization.
Then in February of this year, AGEM gave its first donation of $5,000 to the 9th Annual Midwest Conference on Problem Gambling & Substance Abuse in Kansas City, Mo. This regional conference focuses on the states of Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri and offers the opportunity to interact and network with national and international educators and researchers about resources that enhance quality services for those with problem gambling and substance abuse. This donation shows that AGEM is not just focused on Nevada-based or even national groups.
On a bit of a different note, one new initiative is one Prater was particularly excited about, involving the Lied Discovery Children’s Museum in Las Vegas. It’s part of the centerpiece of the revitalization of downtown Vegas. The current museum is dated, so they’re opening a new building in early 2013 and becoming the DISCOVERY Children’s Museum near the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
But how this initiative came about starts somewhere else. Prater explained: “We as AGEM met separately with both Shelley Berkley and Dean Heller (rivals running for one of Nevada’s U.S. Senate seats) over the last few months, and our members’ biggest complaint to both was the lack of quality education in Nevada that impacts individual AGEM companies’ ability to recruit employees to come to Las Vegas, especially high-end engineers and creative talent. A lot of the pushback is that the education is not good enough for their families. As we’re telling them this, Shuffle Master was having meetings with the Lied museum, and we were asked to consider a donation. These were two separate issues that ended up converging. We agreed to contribute $50,000 to them over the next four years. We have an educational component in AGEM’s mission, and this is an example of that.”
That educational focus also directly impacts students themselves. At the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ Lee Business School’s international program, the organization recently established the AGEM scholarship program. “We’ve committed $20,000 over the next two years to set up the AGEM scholarship for worthy students who meet certain criteria,” Prater explained. “The goal is for two students each year to have their education funded while opening their eyes to international business opportunities.”
Proud UNLV alumnus Jingoli added, “With our international membership base, it was a natural to partner with UNLV’s respected international business program to help worthy students while creating graduates who will be qualified to leap into our industry and begin making a difference right away.”
The donation to UNLV came on the heels of an AGEM scholarship program at Atlantic Cape Community College in New Jersey, where AGEM has dedicated a $25,000 commitment to fund a slot technician curriculum. The program started with a focus on mechanics, but changed criteria and now focuses on computer engineering and components of slot machine technology.
On the education front, AGEM also funded a similar slot technician program that is currently established at the College of Southern Nevada. That was a $300,000 contribution that took place over several years, starting in 2007.
One international venture is with GamCare, a London-based provider of information, advice, support and free counseling for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling. AGEM donated 5,000 British pounds in May this year, and Prater says the partnership is part of AGEM’s focus to broaden its reach and scope.
“We’re proud of our contributions; we do make a difference,” Prater proudly stated. “One reason members join is to do the right thing and support worthwhile causes.”
There is, of course, lots more that AGEM does and advantages it offers to its members and the industry. To find out more about this prestigious organization, visit their website at www.agem.org.
Now that you know a little more about what AGEM does, find out more about its members on the following pages. It’s our annual AGEM membership review and G2E preview, so read on for the latest from AGEM members and what you’ll see from them at this year’s Global Gaming Expo.
Amanda Huggett is the Managing Editor and an Account Manager for Casino Enterprise Management. She can be reached at (701) 293-7775 or editor2[at]aceme.org.
AGEM Membership Roster
Aruze Gaming America
International Game Technology
Scientific Games International
Video Gaming Technologies (VGT)
American Gaming Systems (AGS)
Abbiati Casino Equipment
AC Slots (ACS)
Ainsworth Game Technology
Crane Payment Solutions/CashCode
Digital Display Group/CastNET
Euro Games Technology (EGT)
Gaming Partners International
Glory (U.S.A) Inc.
Inspired Gaming Group
Iverson Gaming Systems
Matsui Gaming Machine Co.
Patriot Gaming & Electronics
3M Touch Systems
Casino Enterprise Management
Cybertec Gaming Systems
DiTronics Financial Services
Elite Casino Products
Esterline Advanced Input Systems
Gaming Capital Group
Gary Platt Manufacturing
Global Cash Access
Global Gaming Group (G3)
Grand Products Nevada
Howard & Howard
Leap Forward Gaming
Lewis & Roca
Regulatory Management Counselors
Rye Park Gaming
The Bright Group
Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO)