by Leo Jakobson | June 01, 2016

Community and Diversity
More than occasionally, some people feel that gambling has a negative impact on communi-ties, which is likely one of the reasons gaming companies want to be seen as good neighbors. It's hardly the only one, of course. For one thing, casino resorts tend to have a large number of employees and a substantial interest in employee engagement, and thus spend a lot of time, effort, and money on loyalty initiatives. And supporting the local community and other types of CSR programs is an important part of these corporate loyalty initiatives.

"Sustainability and our philanthropy efforts  is something that's really important to us," Dominguez says. "But our team members are passionate about this, and they do take kind of a lead, so we listen to them and want their input because they're driving a lot of it for their own communities."

He adds, "The funny thing is, I don't know if it's as much us trying to get the employees [involved in the community] or being driven by our employees expecting us to do this for our community."

 
Community involvement programs have
a bigger impact in small communities
like Biloxi, MS, home of the Beau Rivage
Resort and Casino

That passion can be even more intense in the company's properties outside of Las Vegas, like the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, MS, and MGM Grand in Detroit, Dominguez says. "I think [that's] because they're smaller communities and we have lots of resources, so we tend to take a leadership role on those types of efforts," he says, adding that it's also good for business. A large part of the reason MGM Resorts was awarded the competitive casino licenses for the $800 million resort it is building in Springfield, MA, and the $1.3 billion property in National Harbor, MD, "is because those communities are so impressed with what we do for the community and what we do from a sustainability standpoint," he says.

At each Caesars Entertainment property in and out of Nevada there is a HERO volunteer coordinator, as part of the company's Code Green sustainability initiative. In 2014, the company's employees volunteered nearly 200,000 hours in the communities they work in, while the organization donated $74
million. And aside from the broad diversity-in-hiring program that the major Las Vegas Strip resorts share, Caesars Entertainment launched the Caesars Enlisting Heroes program in 2013, hiring more than 2,000 armed forces veterans and donating more than $1 million to veterans' organizations as a result.

 
The Puccini Ballroom at the Wynn Las Vegas
and Encore, which just earned its sixth
consecutive perfect score on the Human Rights
Campaign's 2016 Corporate Equality Index

Of course diversity encompasses many groups, from women to immigrants and many others. At the five-star Wynn Las Vegas & Encore Resort on The Strip, the "commitment to diversity is among the strongest of any gaming company in the U.S.," says Meghan Speranzo, a spokesperson, noting that the two properties have perfect scores on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's 2016 Corporate Equality Index, measuring LGBT workplace equality.

"We are a company that recognizes that cultural diversity goes beyond language, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, range of ability, and age. We believe that amazing things happen when people from different world views work with each other toward a common goal."

The two resorts spend $635,000 weekly on goods and services purchased from more than 200 minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses, she adds. Nearly two thirds of the workforce and a third of the executives are minorities, while one third are women, as are nearly half the executives.


The Environment
While sustainability is larger than the environment, green issues are still the largest part of sustainability. In part, this goes back to the "good neighbor" commitment of gaming resorts, but also because when done right, environmental policies can be money-savers.

Aimia's Boisner says many sustainable options available to meeting and event planners are often "less expensive than the alternative."

She adds, "Aimia has identified five simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint through environmentally sustainable practices." These are:

1. Efficient transportation practices, such as encouraging the use of public transportation within a certain radius of the event.

2. Using biodegradable serviceware.

3. Reducing paper and collateral materials by using mobile apps and event websites for communications.

4. Using watercooler stations rather than bottled water.

5. Sourcing local goods to reduce transportation emissions.

Both the Wynn Las Vegas and Encore buildings are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. Among the benefits are a reduction in energy use of 18 million kilowatts per year -- enough to power more than 1,600 homes -- and the attendant reduction in the energy bill. And just the five acres of artificial turf in the resort -- not even including other things like low-flow fixtures -- saves 15 million gallons of water a year, which is no small thing in a desert with growing water-shortage concerns.

At the MGM Grand Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, a healthy environment is the selling point for the Stay Well initiative, using current wellness technologies from Delos, research from the Cleveland Clinic, and guidance from Dr. Deepak Chopra. The Stay Well Meetings facility features include air purification and aromatherapy, circadian lighting and chromatherapy, healthy menus approved by Cleveland Clinic nutritionists, and guided meditation breaks by Dr. Chopra. The Stay Well Rooms share many amenities, such as natural cleaning supplies, along with features like vitamin C infused showers and dawn-simulator alarm clocks., among others.

At Caesars Entertainment, the Code Green project has cut greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent since 2007, and is on track to achieve a 40 percent reduction by 2025.

In Monaco, Hoddeson says, "The Prince Albert II Foundation has three main areas of focus: climate change, biodiversity, and ensuring potable water is available to people." The public transportation system is entirely powered by hybrid, biofuel, and electric vehicles, and there are no plastic bags in the principality.

"Much of what is done is not visible to the visitor," she adds. "Initiatives taken by the Grimaldi Forum Monaco and our hotels -- like waste management and environmentally friendly cleaning products -- are not sexy. But they do matter."