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Top-10 takeaways from the AGA's "State of the States"

16 May 2011

Recently, the American Gaming Association released its 2011 "State of the States" report. The annual publication outlines the jobs, revenues and taxes commercial casinos produce in every state that licenses and regulates commercial casinos. The report also includes a survey of Americans to provide a perspective on the casino-going population, as well as American perceptions of casino gambling.

The report provides interesting insights into an ever-changing industry. Here are the top-10 things that I've taken away from this year's report.


10. Racetracks continue to thrive
The AGA plans to merge racetrack casino data into its commercial casino data starting with next year's "State of the States" report, and with good reason. Gross gaming revenues at "racinos" have more than tripled over the last seven years, increasing by 5.6 percent in 2010 to $6.74 billion. In fact, nearly all of the growth in the gaming industry in the U.S. in 2010 occurred at racinos. Commercial casino revenues increased by roughly $110 million, or less than 0.4 percent.

9. Recession moves needle on acceptability of gambling to okay for others
In 2007, 52 percent of those surveyed said casino gambling was "perfectly acceptable for anyone," while 30 percent said it was "acceptable for others but not you personally." By 2009, those numbers had shifted to 43 and 38 percent, respectively. Those numbers have held steady over the past three years while the economy has failed to fully recover. The population that believes that casino gambling is not acceptable for anyone, however, has held steady in the mid-teens.

8. The lottery is the most popular form of gambling
Nearly half (49 percent) of the general population in the survey had played the lottery in the last 12 months, while 25 percent had gambled in a casino, 12 percent played poker, 9 percent wagered on a race, and 1 percent had gambled online.

7. Sports bettors don't lose much, but they spend
In 2010, sports books in Nevada took in $151.1 million in gross gaming revenue, or just 5.5 percent of the $2.7 billion wagered. That $151.1 million amounts to less than 1.5 percent of the overall gross gaming revenue Nevada's 256 casinos raked in. But in a conference call outlining the details of the State of the States, AGA President and CEO Frank Fahrenkopf said that sports betting means a lot more to Las Vegas than the gaming revenues would suggest.

"If you go to Las Vegas on Super Bowl Sunday, or you're there for the Final Four weekend, you can't find a hotel room, you can't get a reservation in a restaurant, and you can't find a car rental," said Fahrenkopf. "It brings an awful lot of people to the city. It's been estimated that one of those weekends in Las Vegas generates about $90 million outside of gaming."

6. Slots are number one
No big surprise here, but slot machines are the favorite casino game for most gamblers. Fifty-one percent of casino gambler picked the slots as their go-to game, while 19 percent said blackjack was their game of choice. Poker (7 percent), craps (5 percent) and roulette (4 percent) also made the popular games list.

5. Most gamblers budget less than $200 a day
Nearly nine out of 10 of the survey respondents who visited a casino last year set a budget, and almost two-thirds of them budgeted less than $200 a day. Forty percent set a loss limit of less than $100, and 25 percent set a limit of $100 - $199. Twenty-two percent set their limit at $300 or more, while just 10 percent budgeted $200 - $299.

4. Casino-goers do more than just gamble
Of the survey respondents who visited a casino in the past 12 months, 73 percent ate at a fine dining restaurant. Casino visitors also saw concerts or shows (56 percent), went shopping (47 percent), visited a bar or club (39 percent) and used recreational facilities, such as a pool, fitness area or golf course (38 percent).

In fact, a full 16 percent of those who visited a casino in the last 12 months said they never or rarely gambled when they visited the casino.

3. Atlantic City's downward trend continues
This isn't news to anyone who follows the gaming industry, but comparing New Jersey's 2010 numbers to the rest of the states highlights Atlantic City's troubles. While 14 of 21 states with commercial casinos saw revenues increase last year, New Jersey's slid by 9.4 percent. The next closest decline came in Illinois, which saw revenues from its nine riverboat casinos drop 4.2 percent.

2. Competition drawing Northeastern gamblers away
And where are those former Atlantic City gamblers going? Quite a few of them are heading to Pennsylvania. Revenues increased in the Keystone State by more than a half a billion dollars to nearly $2.5 billion, a growth rate of 26.4 percent. A large part of that growth came as Pennsylvania started offering table games last summer.

1. Casinos produce big revenues for cash-strapped states
Commercial casinos chipped in nearly $7.6 billion in direct gaming taxes in 2010, an increase of 3 percent over 2009. At a time when every state is looking to find a way to make ends meet, gaming is becoming a more and more attractive option for those states that do not have casinos within their borders.
Top-10 takeaways from the AGA's "State of the States" is republished from iGamingSuppliers.com.
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Best of Aaron Todd
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.