Washington, DC – The American Gaming Association (AGA) and the Iowa Gaming Association (IGA) today are recognizing the 25th anniversary of Iowa’s casino gaming industry – a $1 billion economic engine that supports 9,500 good jobs and has become a bedrock industry in the state. Iowa became one of the first states outside of Nevada and New Jersey to welcome casino gaming when riverboats began operating on April 1, 1991.
Since 1991, Iowa casinos have:
- Generated more than $6 billion in tax revenue for the state;
- Provided nearly 29,000 grants worth $1.4 billion to charitable organizations;
- Embraced the “Buy Iowa First” program by purchasing an average of 84 to 89 percent of all products and services from Iowa-based companies;
- Served as the largest collective tourist attraction in the state, bringing nearly 22 million visitors to its properties; and
- Offered fulfilling careers, with more than 1,600 employees having worked in the industry for at least ten years. More than half (53%) of industry employees are women.
FACT SHEET: 25 Years of Gaming in Iowa
“Given its 25 years of delivering big results, it’s no surprise that casino gaming is embraced by Iowans,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA. “From unmatched economic contributions to vital tax revenue and good jobs, casino gaming has surpassed even the highest of expectations and become a bedrock industry in Iowa.”
“No one could have imagined 2.5 decades ago the vision by a few legislators would create such an important employer and premier entertainment destination in many communities,” said Wes Ehrecke, president & CEO of the IGA. “It is truly one of the best business success stories we should all be proud of. With billions of dollars invested in the property and deep roots in their respective community, I have no doubt Iowa’s state regulated commercial casinos will continue for the next 25 years to be a viable part of Iowa’s economy and add value to the state’s entertainment and tourism industries.”
In June, AGA released survey research that found that Iowans across the political spectrum embrace casino gaming, with liberals (72%) and conservatives (65%) alike saying casinos have helped with economic development and job creation in the state. By a 2-1 margin, likely Iowa caucus-goers said gaming has had a positive effect on Iowa.
As part of its Gaming Votes initiative to educate presidential candidates about the gaming industry in Iowa, AGA released its first-ever voting guide ahead of the February caucuses to the nearly 10,000 gaming employees. AGA, in partnership with IGA, also convened its first on-the-ground event of the initiative at Ameristar Council Bluffs with Congressman David Young and community leaders.