December 08, 2019 The Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire

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Responsible Gaming, the Threat of Digital Gaming and Strategic Challenges in CSR: The MGM Team Responds

"We’re winning business in part due to our CSR strategy. We want to make sure our efforts are actually helping our stakeholders' decisions."


By Jim Murren, Phyllis James and Cindy Ortega, MGM

What does CSR mean for a brand like MGM Resorts International?

The diversity of its stakeholders – from customers, investors, community activists to local governments and shareholders – and the prickly pieces of its business model aren't lost on MGM Resorts International, which has a widespread portfolio of properties across the U.S. and China.

Having won numerous awards for its diversity initiative, community work and sustainability programs, what does MGM Resorts' CSR strategy look like from the inside? And what is a company in the hospitality, entertainment and gaming industry doing to turn the tides on how its business is perceived through a genuine commitment to CSR?

On April 28, 2014, we chatted LIVE with MGM's CEO Jim Murren along with Chief Sustainability Officer Cindy Ortega and Chief Diversity Officer Phyllis James. The hour featured 89 highly engaged participants chatting over 650 tweets, which generated 5.6 million impressions and 22 questions. Here's the recap and here are the team's answers to all the questions we couldn’t get to in the hour:

What do you see as the main challenges moving forward with your CSR strategy? [from @mr_rosenwald]

Phyllis James:

  1. Advancing effective employee communications that support our CSR strategy
  2. Maintaining sustained employee engagement
  3. Competing priorities for employees (i.e., balancing demands of family and work life with CSR priorities)
  4. Acquiring new supporting technologies

There are now so many digital games out. Do you see table games employment dying out? [from @louaijia]

Jim Murren: Although gaming is evolving – becoming more digital – we do not see table games dying out. Guests come to our resorts to enjoy entertainment and build lifelong experiences, areas that human interaction fulfills, roles in which computers simply cannot replace.


Jim Murren: Glad you asked. We’re in the stages of drafting our 2013 CSR Supplement Report. Expect to see it in the next few months, available at

We communicate our CSR commitments and progress in several ways using digital and traditional media. Beyond making the CSR Report available on the internet and distributing it via press releases and social media, we deliver it directly to our major stakeholders through email and other methods. Additionally, we distribute and publish a monthly newsletter highlighting our efforts.

We’re winning business in part due to our CSR strategy. We want to make sure our efforts are actually helping our stakeholders' decisions and communication is a key tool. For example, more and more meeting planners are asking us about our commitment to CSR and considering it in their business decisions.

What % of total is this? >> @mgmresortsintl: Since 2001, our Supplier Diversity Program, has spent over $3 billion with diverse suppliers. [from @susanheaney]

Phyllis James: The percentage of supplier diversity spend (not including construction) varied from year to year because it is relative to the total biddable spend. Our diversity spend has ranged from as low as 5.5% in the program’s early years to as high as nearly 15% later.

During 2010-2013, our diversity spend ranged from 7 – 9%.


Jim Murren: Our concierge desks are very knowledgeable about various available options for our guests to make the most of their trip beyond our properties, including tours at National Parks in the vicinity. We’re pleased to present our guests with memorable Las Vegas experiences that include attractions on and off the Strip.

What is MGM doing in terms of responsible gambling? [from @adamelman]

Jim Murren: Similar to our response during #MGMimpact], we support and have strong relationships with the National Center for Responsible Gaming and similar state efforts.


Additionally, we adhere to the AGA's Code of Conduct for Responsible Gaming and train our employees on the Code and the topic. For example, we annually participate in AGA’s Responsible Gaming Education Week, which is designed to increase awareness of problem gambling among gaming industry employees and customers and to promote responsible gaming nationwide.


Jim Murren: Our employees are at the heart of everything we do, including our CSR initiative. They play critical roles in each of our primary CSR programs, for example:

  • Diversity: Our employees live our philosophy of diversity and inclusion day-in and day-out: respect for the humanity and dignity of all guests, colleagues and vendors. Our employees support Employee Network Groups designed to strengthen relationships among employees with common identities, interests and issues; share valuable knowledge and information about career paths at our company; provide mentoring in addition to formal company programs; and support important company initiatives, such as advertising and marketing events and campaigns.
  • Philanthropy: Each year our employees donate millions of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours to support nonprofit organizations in our community. Last year, our employees committed $4.5 million in charitable donations and logged more than 100,000 volunteer hours.
  • Sustainability: Through MY Green Advantage, a social sustainability website and employee engagement program, all of our employees can learn about and track easy sustainable actions they can take at work and at home. We’re happy to say that nearly 10,000 users have enlisted and are helping our company adopt sustainable best practices throughout the workplace.

Additionally, each of our resorts has developed a CSR Council. These groups reinforce CSR teachings and practices while providing communications and support networks for our employees. Each council is governed by its own self-directed governance structure and sets its own roster of annual CSR activities and priorities.


Phyllis James: MGM Grand Detroit is a significant partner in the community on multiple fronts.

  • More than 3,000 quality jobs with benefits, with more than 51% of those employed coming directly from Detroit.
  • Opportunities for Detroit-based, small and minority businesses: in the last 13 years MGM Grand has spent more than $1 billion with Detroit-based/-owned businesses, helping to build the local economy and providing additional job opportunities outside the project’s walls.
  • Significant revenue for the City: in the last 13 years, MGM Grand has paid more than $1 billion in taxes to the City and State. It is a widely held belief that Detroit survived financially through the first decade of the 21st century because of gaming tax revenues generated by the three casinos.
  • Community benefit: MGM Grand has provided monetary assistance and physical support to more than 400 community and civic organizations and their respective programs throughout the metro Detroit area.
  • Collaboration with local police has increased public safety and mitigates the potential for criminal activity.
  • MGM Grand Detroit has contributed to a reinvigorated economic climate through investment in the City.

Where are you sourcing the power to run the fountains @Bellagio: renewable energy or conventional supply? [from @drsimonwoodward]

Cindy Ortega: Currently, Bellagio's fountains are supplied with energy from the local utility, which includes a minimum of 18 percent renewable energy. MGM Resorts is currently building the second largest solar PV array in the country on the Mandalay Bay Conference Center in Las Vegas.

Isn't the devastating health toll of secondhand smoke on casino workforce/ host communities a blind spot for MGM? [from @anr_smokefree]

Cindy Ortega: MGM Resorts recognizes the concerns that have been expressed on all sides of the second-hand smoke issue and has tried to pursue a balanced approach among the competing interests of involved stakeholders, including our guests. At our resorts, smoking is forbidden in all non-gaming public areas in compliance with state law.

With respect to our gaming floors, where the law permits smoking, we provide non-smoking tables for players who wish to game in such venues. Further, we have made great investments in advanced air-handling technologies throughout our properties to reduce indoor air pollutants. We are committed to continuing investment in effective state-of-the-art indoor air technology in our resorts, as well as continued compliance with applicable legal regulations.

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by CSRwire contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of CSRwire.

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