The America Gaming Association’s campaign against human trafficking continues throughout January with the release of a toolkit designed to combat the crime estimated to have 25 million victims globally every year.
As part of the AGA’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, the guide and the toolkit support the gaming industry’s ongoing efforts to combat crimes taking place on properties.
Alex Costello, the AGA’s Vice President, Government Relations, said the task force grew out of requests from the industry for a “comprehensive and overarching” effort to address human trafficking.
“The people who sit on the task force have different areas of expertise,” Costello said. “Some of them are security experts, some of them are general counsel, some of them do anti-money laundering compliance work. We can really harness all of their experience, but the commitment extends beyond the task force. It’s a way for us to harness all that collective energy.”
The new toolkit is a condensed version of the guide released in 2022. It includes links to anti-trafficking programs, research, and resources, and graphics that can be posted through social media campaigns and at gaming properties.
Costello said similarly to travel and tourism industries, there’s an extra responsibility for gaming operators because of the nature of anti-trafficking crimes.
“Hotels, particularly at some of our resort-style casinos, are a real target for traffickers,” she said. “We run world-class entertainment venues with high levels of security, with a lot of financial transactions being exchanged. While that brings in a lot of customers through our doors, it also, unfortunately, is a pretty inviting environment for traffickers.”
Costello says the best practice to combat human trafficking is to train employees at gaming properties to identify and report victims. It’s also incumbent to develop relationships with anti-human trafficking organizations and law enforcement agencies, and to even enlist the help of patrons who may be able to identify victims at properties.
“This is happening everywhere but it’s a little different everywhere,” Costello says. “There’s a misconception this only happens at big, glitzy resorts. But it happens across the country, at regional casinos, at tribal casinos — they have a different set of circumstances, so we have a special part of our guide that really focuses on tribal lands. It truly is happening everywhere, and that’s why we have to be hyper-vigilant.”
The AGA launched a monthlong awareness campaign the first week of January to emphasize key talking points related to Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force:
- Jan. 1-7: Support Survivors
- Jan. 8-14: Work with Law Enforcement
- Jan. 15-21: Unite with Travel Partners
- Jan. 22-31: Empower Employees