By Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr.
Ever since the AGA opened its doors in 1995, we’ve been charged with an important mission: to provide the facts about an industry that for far too many years has been plagued by myths, stereotypes and misinformation.
For the past two years, the National Gambling Impact Study Commission has helped serve as a forum to disseminate information about the economic and social benefits of our industry. But now that the commission has completed its work, we must continue to provide our key audiences with the facts about our business.
To help all of us better respond to those inquiries, the American Gaming Association (AGA) has embarked upon a long—term commitment to produce an annual survey of casino entertainment. Modeled after the longtime Harrah’s surveys, State of the States: The AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment will offer readers easy—to—use graphs and charts highlighting key facts about our industry.
How many of you have ever been asked where casinos are located? How many casinos there are? The number of casino employees? How much people spend at casinos? Or when casinos were approved in your state and how? Most of us involved in the gaming industry have had to face these types of questions. Those of you who deal regularly with the media and decision makers hear these questions nearly every day. Whether it’s a profile of the average casino visitor or how much tax revenue is contributed, the AGA survey will provide comprehensive information to answer frequently asked questions, all in a single publication.
A special section highlighting American perceptions of casino gambling offers insight on issues of interest to decision makers as well as industry leaders. How acceptable is gaming, both nationally and in different regions of the country? What do Americans feel about the industry’s role in curbing compulsive or underage gambling? Is casino gaming viewed as a fun night out? Answers to these questions and more are shown graphically in an easy—to—read format. The information in this section is based on results of a recent nationwide poll conducted for the AGA by respected pollsters Frank Luntz and Peter Hart.
As the survey indicates, the commercial casino gaming industry, with gross revenues in 1998 of approximately $20 billion, operates approximately 450 properties throughout the United States. The industry contributed more than $2.5 billion in tax revenues last year to the states and localities where it operates, providing funding for community improvements such as road repairs, health care services, transportation, public safety programs and education. The survey documents how much is collected in casino taxes and how that revenue is spent in each state.
The survey also demonstrates the social impact created by the more than 325,000 casino industry jobs, with total wages of $8.7 billion. These employees not only give back to their communities through their spending but also through charitable contributions of more than $58 million annually. In addition, the survey documents the job opportunities the industry has provided for women, minorities and the disabled.
As the survey shows, casinos remain a popular form of entertainment among Americans. One in three U.S. households gambled at a casino in 1998. Also, a majority of Americans see casino gaming as a social activity, with 93 percent of casino visitors saying they go to a casino with others. In addition, Americans know their limits, with 73 percent of players always setting a budget before they enter a casino.
To highlight conclusions reached by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission about the commercial casino industry, throughout the survey are supporting quotations from the commission’s Final Report, which was released in June.
The survey data were compiled by the AGA, Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc.; Christiansen Capital Advisors; Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc./The Luntz Research Companies; and The Evans Group. Information was also provided by state gaming control boards and state gaming associations. Arthur Andersen assisted in the compilation and analysis of state data.
The AGA survey, which was released Sept. 14 at World Gaming Congress in Las Vegas, will give those in our industry who deal with the media, government officials or the general public a useful tool to provide fact—based reference information on the state of our industry today. To receive a copy of the survey, please fax a request to the American Gaming Association at 202—637—6507. Individual copies are free of charge; a small fee will apply for multiple copies.
In the February 1999 issue of International Gaming & Wagering Business, the American Gaming Association submitted an article with the following statement:
He [Goodman] also cites noted anti—gaming activist Valerie Lorenz and a report from the Florida governor’s office that contends 40% of all white—collar crime is caused by gaming, a fictitious statistic from the American Insurance Institute, a fake organization created by Goodman and repeatedly cited in the media.
The American Gaming Association, Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr. and International Gaming & Wagering Business did not intend to state that Mr. Goodman created the American Insurance Institute or the 40% statistic upon which he has relied. To date, neither the existence of the American Insurance Institute nor its alleged report cited by Mr. Goodman as verifying the 40% statistic has been confirmed or proven. To the extent the readers of this statement understood that Mr. Goodman had created the American Insurance Institute or the alleged 40% statistic, the American Gaming Association, Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr. and International Gaming & Wagering Business retract that statement