ESA spent $4.8 million in games lobbying last year

The intersection of games and politics struck sharply earlier this year, when the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School prompted politicians to investigate possible contributing factors to gun violence. This pulled in to lobbying heavyweights: the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), as Vice President Biden held meetings. Though the national dialogue may seem more heavily influenced by the NRA, it turns out the ESA actually spends more on lobbying efforts.

A report from the Center for Responsive Politics found on OpenSecrets, and reported by GamesIndustry.biz, gave the relative numbers. The ESA reported $4.83 million in federal lobbying last year, as compared to $2.98 million from the NRA. But, that's only part of the story. The NRA spends much more on contributions and outside spending, which includes donations to candidates, political action committees, and advertisements. The NRA spends $1.52 million on those efforts, as compared to only $510,000 from the ESA.

So what is that money going towards? In the first quarter of 2013, it spent the bulk of its money on advocating first amendment rights in response to attempts at media regulation, copyright protection, domestic and foreign trade, and a host of tangentially connected issues like immigration, telecommunications, energy, and taxation.

It's also notable that those contributions are only the ones that are publicly reported, and there are myriad loopholes to avoid it. Some groups might shave off pieces that aren't for specific legislation, or won't consider salaries of some employees a lobbying expense, and so on.