WASHINGTON – Seventy-nine percent of civic leaders and elected officials in gaming jurisdictions think casinos have had a positive impact on their communities, according to a new poll conducted for the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) 2005 State of the States: The AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment. This overwhelming endorsement of casinos by leaders in gaming communities, along with comprehensive economic data pointing to the largest annual percentage increase in gross gaming revenue since 2000, are among the highlights of this year’s survey.
According to the poll, conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc., elected officials and civic leaders from areas where commercial casinos operate say casinos have expanded the local economy and jobs and helped boost neighboring businesses. Fully 82 percent of community leaders say casinos are good corporate citizens. And, in perhaps the most telling response, while only 58 percent of the mayors, county executives, police chiefs, city managers and other local leaders polled had a favorable opinion of gaming before it was first introduced, after witnessing the impact on their communities, 75 percent say they would now vote to allow casinos.
“The overwhelming approval of the gaming industry by these community leaders – men and women who experience the impact of casinos in their area every day – is a testament to the significant contributions our properties are making in their host communities,” said Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., president and CEO of the AGA. “We are pleased to release this data as part of the 2005 State of the States, the most detailed and comprehensive information resource on the current state of the commercial casino industry.”
In addition to these polling results, the AGA’s 2005 State of the States survey includes comprehensive data on the economic impact of the U.S. commercial casino industry at the national and state level. The data show industry growth continued to improve in 2004, representing the greatest annual percentage increase in gross gaming revenue since 2000.
Last year, the 445 commercial casinos in 11 states generated nearly $29 billion in gross gaming revenue, surpassing 2003 gross gaming revenues by more than 7 percent. Survey data also indicate the industry continued to be a significant source of revenue for state and local economies, distributing more than $4.7 billion in direct gaming taxes in 2004, a 9.6 percent increase over 2003 figures. The nearly 350,000 direct industry employees earned wages of more than $12 billion in 2004.
State of the States also includes a detailed look at the growing economic impact of racetrack casinos, or racinos. In 2004, the 23 operational racetrack casinos in seven states generated nearly $2.9 billion in gross gaming revenue, a 30 percent increase over 2003 figures. More than $1 billion of those revenues were paid in direct gaming taxes.
In a special section devoted to poker, the survey details new information on one of the gaming industry’s most dynamic phenomenon. According to results of a new public opinion poll, nearly one in five adults played poker at least once in the past year, a 50 percent increase over the number who played in 2003. According to survey participants, reasons for the growing interest in poker are many, but 57 percent say they play as an entertaining way to spend time with friends and family, and 21 percent reported enjoying the challenge to their skills and strategic abilities.
Survey results also indicate overall acceptability of casino gambling remains high, with more than 80 percent of respondents saying it is acceptable for themselves or others. And, with an increasingly diverse array of entertainment offerings, casinos are attracting visitors looking to do more than gamble. According to the poll, Americans by a more than two-to-one margin say they enjoy casinos more for the food, shows and entertainment than for the gambling. And, in response to an open-ended survey question, Americans named Las Vegas the most fun city in the country more than any other.
In commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the AGA, the 2005 State of the States also features several new information tools, including a pocket guide to key national and state economic statistics, a detailed pull-out map of casino locations by category and a glossary of often-confusing gaming terms.
“This year’s survey confirms that the U.S. commercial casino industry has become a mainstay in America’s entertainment culture and a powerful force in our national economy,” Fahrenkopf said. “I can’t think of a better 10th anniversary present.”
To obtain a full copy of the 2005 State of the States, contact Holly Thomsen at 202-637-6506 or download (PDF, 470K) an electronic version.
The AGA represents the commercial casino-entertainment industry by addressing federal legislative and regulatory issues. The association also serves as a clearinghouse for information, develops educational and advocacy programs, and provides leadership on industry-related issues of public concern.