WASHINGTON – Despite a crippling recession during 2009, the U.S. commercial casino industry remained a vital asset to the nation’s economy. According to a report released today by the American Gaming Association (AGA), gross gaming revenues totaled $30.74 billion in 2009, a 5.5 percent drop from 2008.
“This past year was tough for all Americans, and it was tough for our business as well,” said Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., president and CEO of the AGA. “Nearly every industry that depends on consumer spending to succeed has been negatively impacted by the recession. But I’m pleased to say that our industry has continued to provide Americans with jobs and state and local governments with tax revenues that have helped hard-hit government budgets weather this storm.”
Widely regarded as the most comprehensive resource of its kind, State of the States: The AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment offers an in-depth look at the commercial casino industry. It provides national and state-by-state economic impact data, such as gaming revenues, tax contributions, employment and wage figures, for the 13 commercial casino and 12 racetrack casino states in the U.S. as well as public opinion polling results on a variety of gaming issues.
The new edition of State of the States reveals that commercial casinos returned nearly $5.6 billion in tax revenues to gaming communities across the country last year. Those sorely needed contributions helped state and localities pay for important programs and services when deep budget deficits cut into most government programs. The report also indicates that the industry provided much-needed jobs in the tight economy, employing an estimated 330,000 people who earned $13.1 billion in wages, salaries and benefits in 2009.
The State of the States survey again reports on the significant contributions the gaming equipment manufacturing sector is making to the economy. Research and analysis conducted by Applied Analysis on behalf of the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers shows that despite the recession, this sector of the gaming industry generated $12.1 billion in direct revenue – a 4.7 percent decrease compared to 2008. It also provided direct employment to 30,000 Americans, paying salaries and wages totaling $2.1 billion. A survey of equipment manufacturers found that 75 percent of those in the business are optimistic about growth prospects in the near future.
A special section in the 2010 State of the States survey examines the impact of casinos in their host communities by polling those who live and work in those areas. Results show that survey participants are favorable about the impact of casinos. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) think they have had a positive impact on the community, and an even higher percentage (69 percent) say casinos have had a positive impact on their area’s tourism industry. A solid majority (62 percent) also thinks casinos are beneficial during recessionary times because of the tax revenues, tourism and jobs they generate. In perhaps the most telling finding of the survey, more than two-thirds (68 percent) of those surveyed say they would vote “yes” if a referendum were held to decide whether or not to keep casino gaming.
Survey data also shows that casino visitation remained high, with more than one-quarter of Americans (28 percent) visiting a casino in 2009. According to poll results, nearly 60 percent of casino gamblers say slot machines are their favorite casino game. This edition of the States of the States takes a closer look at this form of gaming, including a chart showing the distribution of the nearly 833,000 gaming machines across the country, a report on the percentage of revenue casinos get from slots, and more. All of the commercial casino states now receive at least 65 percent of their gaming revenues from slot machines.
Additional survey results indicate that overall acceptability of the industry remained high in 2009, as 81 percent of Americans think casino gambling is an acceptable activity for themselves or others. When comparing an evening out at a casino to other entertainment options, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) consider it a good value for the money.
The 2010 States of the States report also spotlights data on poker, sports betting and consumer budgeting at casinos. It includes several helpful tools and resources, such as a pocket guide with topline national and economic data, as well as a glossary of frequently used gaming-related terms.
Public polling data included in the report were collected by VP Communications, Inc. in conjunction with national pollster Peter D. Hart. A full copy of the 2010 State of the States can be downloaded at www.americangaming.org. Media representatives may obtain a copy by contacting Brian Lehman at 202-552-2680.
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.