LAS VEGAS—A new poll has found that the majority of America’s senior citizens visit casinos for the ‘fun and excitement’ and cite ‘socializing’ as far more important than actual gambling in their decision to go to casinos. The vast majority of seniors believe gambling is a matter of personal freedom, according to the poll, and say that people should make their own choices as to how to spend their disposable income.
The findings of the poll, conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc., and The Luntz Research Companies, are part of the second annual survey of the U.S. commercial casino industry produced by the American Gaming Association (AGA). Released today at World Gaming Congress in Las Vegas, State of the States: The AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment is a comprehensive look at both the economic and social aspects of the gaming industry in the United States.
‘Since opening our doors in 1996, the AGA has been committed to serving as a clearinghouse of information on the gaming industry, which for too long has been plagued by misinformation and myths spread by opponents trying to discredit gaming’s many contributions,’ said AGA President and CEO Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr. ‘Our annual survey is part of our goal to set the record straight.’
In recognition of the growing importance of America’s elderly in our nation’s political landscape, Fahrenkopf noted that the 2000 State of the States features a special section dedicated to the senior population as casino customers. ‘This is particularly important in our effort to dispel the false claims made about the reasons seniors - like all Americans - enjoy casino gaming.’
The AGA survey, for example, reports that seniors, like average Americans, view casino gambling as a social activity, with more than 90 percent visiting casinos with family, friends or an organized group. When compared side-by-side with other casino customers, seniors are more likely to set a budget - 69 percent of senior citizens say they always set a budget before visiting a casino versus 62 percent of casino customers overall. More than 90 percent of seniors believe that people should be able to spend their disposable income the way they want and that gambling is a question of personal freedom. More than 56 percent say that ‘fun and entertainment’ is the primary reason they visit casinos.
State of the States also looked at the ways the casino industry supports seniors in their communities. In Vicksburg, Miss., for example, employees of the Harrah’s Vicksburg Casino and Hotel contribute to Meals on Wheels one Saturday a month, delivering food donated by the casino to approximately 85 seniors. MGM MIRAGE in Las Vegas has established a senior community forum that features local and national public officials in discussions of crucial issues facing seniors, and Station Casinos, Inc., in Nevada has similar monthly forums as part of its Very Important Seniors program. In New Jersey, the 8 percent tax casino companies pay on gaming revenues goes into a fund largely dedicated to seniors and the disabled that has, since the first casino opened in Atlantic City more than 20 years ago, collected $4.2 billion. This money funds a variety of innovative programs benefiting the elderly, including the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled program that provides prescription drugs to more than 200,000 state residents at a cost of only $5.
State of the States also presents interested parties with vital facts and figures on the U.S. casino industry, which in 1999 directly employed more than 355,000 individuals - up some 30,000 from the previous year. In 1999, the industry had a payroll of more than $9.8 billion, more than $1 billion over the 1998 amount, and generated more than $3 billion in gaming tax revenues - $500 million more than in 1998. The survey is broken down into sections that include an overview of casino entertainment, data on the economic impact of gaming, a look at casino customers and trends in casino visitation and America’s perceptions of the gaming industry. Easy-to-use graphs and charts also are featured throughout the survey, illustrating data such as the locations and types of casinos nationwide and the total number of casino industry jobs. The survey also includes state-by-state charts that breakdown jobs, wages and tax revenues, as well as graphs that show facts such as consumer spending on casino gaming and the most popular forms of gaming.
In addition to the Hart/Luntz polling data, information in State of the States was gathered from public sources including state gaming regulatory agencies, state gaming associations and the National Indian Gaming Association. It was supplemented where necessary with information from Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc./NFO Research and the consulting firm of Christiansen Capital Advisors. Arthur Andersen assisted in the compilation and analysis of state statistics.
‘We believe the 2000 edition of State of the States will go a long way in promoting a better understanding of the gaming industry and its role in this nation,’ Fahrenkopf said.
The American Gaming Association 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.
To view the survey results, click here; a copy of the survey also can be ordered by faxing a request to the AGA at 202-637-6507.