Since 1999, the American Gaming Association (AGA) has published an annual survey of casino entertainment, providing policy-makers, the media and the general public with a compilation of economic statistics and polling data relevant to our business. State of the States has served not only as a resource for these audiences but also as an internal tool to help guide us in developing industry initiatives.
The 2004 State of the States, which was released in April, gives us greater insight than ever before into how Americans view our efforts on responsible gaming. According to the research, conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc. and The Luntz Research Companies, a solid majority of Americans—62 percent—think the casino industry is doing a good job eliminating illegal or underage use of our product. Those who have visited a casino three or more times in the past year were even more positive about the industry. Forty percent stated we are doing a very good job in this area. And, among residents who live in one of the 11 commercial casino states, 63 percent said the casino industry is doing a good job.
The introduction of the AGA Code of Conduct late last year gave Americans further cause to support the industry’s approach to responsible gaming. According to the survey, more than 70 percent of the American public had a more favorable opinion about the casino industry after learning that we had adopted such an initiative.
So, what do these results mean? The American public acknowledges—and appreciates—our efforts to be good corporate citizens and to be part of the solution to disordered gambling. While it’s encouraging that the American people think we’re doing a good job addressing this problem, the true measure of our success will be the long-term impact of the Code of Conduct, as well as our research and public education initiatives, on our patrons and employees.
Beyond data related to the industry’s approach to responsible gaming, the 2004 State of the States survey also indicates that acceptability of casino gambling remains high. The vast majority of Americans—81 percent—said casino gambling was an acceptable activity for themselves or others. In addition, an overwhelming 87 percent of Americans said gambling is a question of personal choice, and that people should be able to go into a casino, have their own budget and spend their disposable income the way they see fit.
As it does every year, State of the States presents statistical data on the U.S. commercial casino industry. Our industry continued to exhibit slow but steady growth in 2003. Customers spent $27 billion at the 443 commercial casinos nationwide, an increase of nearly 2 percent compared to 2002.
And, while some industries were forced to cut jobs in 2003, employment in the commercial casino industry held steady. The industry employed 350,452 workers in 2003, a slight increase compared to 2002 levels. In addition, the industry continued to pay large sums to state and local governments through direct gaming taxes. Payments in 2003 totaled $4.4 billion, a $400 million increase from 2002.
These economic contributions by the industry are not lost on the American public. According to the survey, two-thirds of Americans agreed that casinos bring widespread economic benefits to other industries and businesses within the region.
That success also translated to racetrack casinos. Located in six states across the country, racinos last year generated $2.2 billion in revenue, a $200 million increase since 2002. Of that amount, $766 million was disbursed to state and local governments. With New York and Maine recently legalizing racinos, and several other states considering adding slot machines and/or video lottery terminals to existing racetracks, we can expect this sector to continue to be an important component of industry growth.
Every year, State of the States provides us with an important snapshot of our business, giving us insight into how we’ve progressed as an industry both economically and in terms of public perception. This information can help us identify areas where we have been successful as well as where there is room for improvement. In many ways, State of the States can serve both as a road map for today and as a blueprint for the industry’s future.
To review the 2004 State of the States, click here. To obtain hard copies, call the AGA at 202-637-6500.