Finally! After all the talk, talk, talk and endless advertisements, the 2014 elections are over. The results created the largest seismic shift in the nation’s governance since 2006. In a wave that defeated mostly Democratic incumbents in Washington and throughout individual states, Republicans will lead both Congressional bodies by large margins through 2016. You know conditions have shifted when deeply Democratic states like Illinois, Massachusetts and Maryland elect Republican governors. A friend from Illinois told me, “As a Chicago Democrat, I voted for a Republican governor for the first time. I’ve had enough of the fiscal mess Pat Quinn, the current Democratic governor, created.“ Illinois is broke. New leadership should help, starting with the Video Gaming Act of 2009. This law legalized video lottery games, to be operated by amusement vendors, in liquor establishments. After many delays, the program has only reached a fraction of its potential. Small operators accuse cumbersome governmental regulations and fees of ruining their businesses. Massachusetts voters rejected – by a 60/40 margin – repeal of the 2011 law permitting three casinos and a slots parlor. Approvals have been granted to MGM Resorts for Springfield; Steve Wynn for Everett and the Penn National slots parlor in Plainville. The last casino will be licensed in southeastern Massachusetts near Boston. The tax rate will be 49% for the slots parlor; 25% for the casinos. I view these multi-state changes as benefitting gaming operators and their local communities. Hopefully, these business-friendly governors will institute tax reforms and combat incompetent fiscal management. Although House Republicans in Washington did little since 2012, they will gain seats to a historic level. Many issues will resurface following Nevada Democrat Harry Reid‘s loss of his powerful Senate Majority Leader position. Reid also did little this session, stalling over 350 pieces of legislation he found unfavorable. Reid and President Obama, who considered his policies on the ballot, unsuccessfully campaigned against Republicans. In Nevada, voters defeated incumbent Democrats and easily reelected popular Republican Governor Brian Sandoval, who was a former Attorney General and the youngest chairman of the Gaming Commission of Nevada. Sadly, the incredibly low voter turnout totaled only one-third of registered voters, including me. The next day, Obama said he “heard“ the one-third who voted against his party, but also “heard” the other two-thirds. Really? Did he read their collective minds? Did they admit to being too disinterested, uninformed, lazy, forgetful or busy to voice their opinions and remain relevant? I’ve always voted and faced many disappointments. This year, I again split my vote between parties. Some won, others lost… that’s how it goes. An ex-politician recently said, “Politicians don’t work for the people. They work for the voters.” What issues in 2015 will impact gaming operators, employees and suppliers? Several, including raising minimum wages. Democrats view this as solving “income inequality,” but Republicans see it as a job killer. Obama wants a $10.10-per-hour minimum. Currently, almost half the states’ minimum wages surpass federal $7.25-per-hour levels; 19 are consistent. Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota – all Republican strongholds – voted for increases. Will this lead to more discretionary spending by consumers or fewer hours on the job? No one knows yet. Approval of the fourth and final construction phase of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline project, which will move oil from Canada to Texas, will probably go forward. Three of the four zones are complete. I believe the final zone will expedite oil delivery, running through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, which all have commercial or tribal gaming. I support the project, despite Obama’s vetoes and environmental activism against it. It sounds safer to me than transporting oil in many inhabited regions via train or truck. The construction and operation is projected to create up to 20,000 direct and indirect jobs and hopefully maintain lower fuel prices. Throughout the entire Midwest region, that can only enhance the quality of life for residents and businesses, resulting in leaving more discretionary money to spend on leisure activities like gaming, entertainment and dining. Everyone wins when businesses can thrive on multiple levels. Two other major issues (healthcare and immigration) remain controversial. Another piece of Obamacare is before the Supreme Court. Also, Obama’s recent Executive Action clears the way for almost five million people in the US illegally to work openly. How will these affect employment? These evolving topics require their own columns. Because Nevada‘s undocumented immigrant population leads the nation – 7.6% of the overall state inhabitants – it will have significant ramifications.