WASHINGTON — Two million more Americans visited a casino in 2003 than in 2002, according to the 2004 State of the States: The AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment, released today by the American Gaming Association (AGA).
The survey, which includes 2003 economic data for the commercial casino industry as well as the results of 2004 public opinion polling, reports that 53.4 million adult Americans went to casinos last year, according to data compiled by Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc./NFO WorldGroup. The data also found that these visitors made a total of 310 million trips to casinos in 2003, averaging 5.8 trips per person.
In addition to visiting casinos in greater numbers, Americans continue to show strong support for casino gaming. Polling conducted for the AGA by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc., and The Luntz Research Companies found that more than 80 percent of those surveyed believe casino gaming is acceptable for themselves or others — a figure that has remained consistent throughout the past five years. This acceptance is seen in all age groups, income brackets, U.S. regions and at all levels of religious participation.
Americans — especially those most familiar with casinos — are broadly supportive of the industry’s responsible gaming efforts as well. According to the polling results, 91 percent of casino visitors and 69 percent of residents living within 10 miles of a casino say the industry is doing a good job eliminating illegal or underage use of its product. Two-thirds of all Americans agree the casino industry is doing a good job in this area.
“Our polling clearly shows that most Americans not only feel casino gaming is an acceptable form of entertainment, they also acknowledge — and appreciate — efforts by the industry to be good corporate citizens and to be part of the solution to disordered gambling,” said Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., president and CEO of the AGA.
According to statistics gathered primarily from state regulatory agencies, the 443 commercial casinos in 11 states nationwide generated more than $27 billion in gross gaming revenue in 2003, an increase of nearly 2 percent compared to 2002. From that revenue, casinos paid state and local governments $4.32 billion in direct gaming taxes. Employment figures rose slightly in 2003, with the industry providing jobs for 352,428 workers who earned more than $11.8 billion in salaries, including benefits and tips. The survey also reports on the six states with racetrack casinos, all of which had increases in gross revenue, tax payments and jobs.
“What these numbers signify is that even when the country is facing an extended period of economic uncertainty, Americans still set aside a portion of their disposable income for fun and entertainment,” Fahrenkopf said. “This allows us to provide more job opportunities, with good salaries and benefits, in the communities where we do business.”
The 2004 State of the States features a new section on organized poker, charting consumer spending and providing demographic information on the average player. 2003 poker revenues were at their highest level in a decade in Nevada and were the highest ever recorded in New Jersey, the only two states that track those revenues. According to the data, Americans spent $105 million on poker in Nevada and New Jersey alone in 2003. An additional $843.9 million is spent annually in card rooms, where the main source of revenue is poker. The survey also indicates players tend to be men between the ages of 21 and 39 with no organized political affiliation.
To view a full copy of the survey, click here. Copies of the survey also can be obtained by calling the AGA at 202-637-6500.
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.