Gambling at U.S. casinos rose in 2012, report says

Los Angeles TimesMay 7, 2013 

More gamblers are hitting the slots and blackjack tables in the U.S., giving the industry a 4.8 percent boost in 2012, its biggest since the recession.

Consumer spending at casinos grew to $37.3 billion, slightly below the industry's 2007 record high at $37.5 billion, according to a report released Monday from the American Gaming Association.

The boost is due to an improving economy and increased consumer spending, the trade group said. Revenues are also up because of the opening of new casinos in markets like New York City, Kansas and Ohio.

But the rise in new casinos in the mid-Atlantic region contributed to decreased revenues in Delaware and New Jersey.

"After three years of increasing growth and positive signs in all sectors of the industry, it's clear that we have weathered the recession," Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, said in a statement.

"Whether we look at jobs, casino visitors served or tax revenues being provided, the bottom line is that there is much to be optimistic about in the commercial casino industry."

Fifteen of the 22 states that had commercial casinos in 2011 saw increases. Kansas saw the largest boost at 603.7 percent, followed by Maryland and Maine with respective increases of 142.6 percent and 66.9 percent.

This was driven by the opening of new casinos or casinos that had their first full year of operations,

according to the gaming trade group.

In 2012, New Jersey saw a decline of 8 percent in gross gaming revenue, the largest decrease, after Superstorm Sandy led to temporary casino closings and reduced tourism.

Nevada, the biggest gambling market with 265 operating casinos, experienced a 1.5 percent increase in gross gaming revenue in 2012 at $10.9 billion.

While revenues grew, gaming industry-related jobs fell by 0.9 percent from 2011. The more than 332,000 people who are employed by the industry earned $13.2 billion in wages, benefits and tips in 2012.

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