Tuesday May 7,2013 :  2012 A BETTER YEAR FOR U.S. LAND GAMBLING INDUSTRY
 
Latest ‘State of US Gambling’ report by the AGA shows an overall 5 percent improvement in revenue
 
The American Gaming Association, trade body for most of the major non-tribal US land gambling groups, published its annual assessment of the industry this week, noting that overall gambling revenues increased by nearly 5 percent in 2012 and jobs held roughly steady.
 
Non-tribal casinos took in $37.3 billion, an increase of 4.8 percent over 2011 and the second largest rise since 2007 – just before the economic crisis engulfed the world – when revenues of $37.5 billion were achieved.
 
There were 513 commercial casinos operating across the USA last year, up from 492 in 2011. Las Vegas remains the nation's top gambling market, with more than $6.2 billion in revenue last year.
 
15 of the 22 American states that had commercial casinos last year saw gambling revenues increase, led by Kansas, Maryland, Maine and New York, each of which opened new casinos in 2012. Ohio became the 23rd state with a commercial casino last year.
 
New Jersey experienced the largest decline in casino revenue. Despite adding a twelfth casino, Atlantic City's revenues fell 8 percent to just over $3 billion. AGA outgoing CEO Frank Fahrenkopf reported that the city's casinos continue to fight increased competition in neighbouring states and were hurt by the after-effects of Superstorm Sandy, which kept some visitors away for months.
 
New Jersey has seen its casino revenue fall from a high of $5.2 billion in 2006, but there are hopes that intrastate Internet gambling, which was legalised this year, will help revitalise the market. Casino tax revenues paid to the state fell to $254.8 million in 2012 as an annual decline since 2006 continued – spending on gambling in Atlantic City has declined nearly 40 percent in that time.
 
Delaware, which also is battling a glut of casinos in the mid-Atlantic region, saw its casino revenue fall 4.7 percent to $526.6 million last year. It, too, will offer Internet gambling this year. Indiana was down 4 percent, to $2.61 billion.
 
Pennsylvania did well, reporting a 4.6 percent increase, and surpassed New Jersey to become the second-largest casino market in the nation after Nevada.
 
"Pennsylvania has been one of the great success stories of our industry in the last few years," Fahrenkopf said, noting that it was at the expense of Atlantic City in New Jersey. "If you live in Pennsylvania you no longer have to drive an hour and 15 minutes to Atlantic City to play the slots."
 
Internet gambling represented only 3 percent of U.S. gambling activity, the AGA estimates. However, the trade body notes that this sector is likely to show increases going forward as individual states begin to offer online gambling. Three states – Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey – have already taken the legalization path, and at least 10 other states are considering adding Internet gambling, according to the Association's report.
 
Casinos paid a total of $8.6 billion in taxes to state and local governments last year, an increase of 8.5 percent.
 
Employment at the casinos was down less than 1 percent, with about 332,000 people holding jobs.
 
The Associated Press news agency reports that the AGA's figures do not include Indian casinos, which took in $26.1 billion in 2011, the last year for which figures are available, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission.
 
The AGA report notes that there were more than 853,000 slot machines in use at U.S. casinos last year, and casinos in Iowa and South Dakota derived more than 90 percent of their gambling revenue from slots in 2012.
 
Among casino table games, blackjack is the most popular, followed by roulette, poker and craps.
 
The report also included detailed surveys of gamblers that showed their habits and preferences.
 
More than 76 million Americans visited a casino last year, and about one third percent of all Americans gambled at one. But more than a quarter of all casino patrons never or rarely gamble when they visit a casino.
 
Playing the lottery remains the most popular form of gambling in America, with just over half of respondents saying they bought a ticket last year.