Gaming’s main political-lobbying organization, the Entertainment Software Association, spent $4.83 million on federal lobbying last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), as first reported by Gamesindustry International. That’s significantly higher than the gun industry’s most well-known lobbying organization, the National Rifle Association, which only spent $2.98 million on lobbying activities.
Those figures might make you scratch your head if you’ve been watching the news. Politicians seem to have no issues proposing legislation that would restrict the sales of video games, but the same is not true for firearms.
In April, congress attempted to pass a bill that would have implemented universal background checks for anyone looking to buy a gun at a trade show or online. The U.S. Senate failed to pass the bill despite 90 percent of Americans supporting the background checks, according to the Washington Post.
The reason that bill failed? Well, if it’s because the NRA spent $2.98 million on lobbying, then the gaming industry’s $4.83 milllion should make even more of an impact.
It doesn’t, of course, and the reason the bill failed (and that the ESA doesn’t have the same influence) is much more complicated than the dollars spent lobbying.
As Gamesindustry points out, the CRP also tracks organizational spending toward direct contributions and outside spending. “Direct contributions” refers to money donated to the election campaigns of politicians. In that area, the NRA spent $1.52 million during the current election cycle. The ESA only spent $510,000 on contributions. Outside spending is cash that typically funds communication efforts — think political attacks ads. The bulk of the NRA’s political spending goes to funding these efforts, with the organization spending $19.77 million in the current election cycle. The ESA didn’t drop a single cent on outside spending.
Even those CRP numbers do not fully reflect all of The ESA’s or NRA’s spending. Regulations only force political organizations to report spending when they are lobbying for specific legislation. That means if the NRA sends out $100,000 in fliers that talks about the issue of gun control, but doesn’t mention a particular bill, it is not required to report that as official lobbying.
Finally, political spending can only go so far. It’s important to keep in mind the value voters place on these issues. Many gun-rights supporters will vote against any candidate that doesn’t share their views on guns even if the politician shares all of their other opinions. Gamers, on the other hand, haven’t proven that they vote as a block. Politicians do not fear the gamer vote.