The American Gaming Association's survey for 2007 shows that Americans spent more money [land] gambling during the year than on movie tickets or candy, but the steady growth of commercial casinos over the past decade could slow due to a slumping US economy and setbacks in new venue plans, reports Business Week.
Released by the AGA this week, the survey showed that U.S. commercial casino revenues were up 5.3 percent to $34.1 billion in 2007. By way of comparison, the report cites statistics from the National Confectioners Association and the Motion Picture Association of America, indicating that Americans spent $29 billion on candy and $9.6 billion on movie tickets in 2007.
Employment in casinos showed some shrinkage, too with jobs down by 2.3 percent, and staff cuts in Nevada, New Jersey and Illinois. Commercial casinos lost about 8 500 jobs in 2007, and employed fewer than 361 000 workers in 2007 compared with a figure of 369 000 in 2006, the AGA study found.
Revenues in New Jersey fell 5.7 percent to $4.9 billion last year as a consequence of competition in Philadelphia suburbs and a law limiting smoking to a portion of the casino floor. A more restrictive ban on smoking approved by the Atlantic City Council is expected to take effect in October, making it the largest gambling spot in the country to bar smoking across the casino floor.
Bids to open new American casinos were rejected in Massachusetts (see previous InfoPowa reports) and Kentucky, adding credence to perceptions that the rapid expansion of US land casinos has slowed.
"We're facing some difficult economic times," said American Gaming Association President Frank Fahrenkopf. "People said for years that we were recession-proof. I've been saying we're not recession-proof, we're recession-resistant. There's a lot of factors that go into it and I don't think you can point at any one," he said.
Fahrenkopf added that tight credit markets would likely not affect most of the $53 billion in commercial casino expansion planned and expected over the next few years.
The action at 41 racetrack casinos in 11 US states was more encouraging, the study found, with revenues up 46 percent from $3.6 billion, reaching $5.3 billion in gambling revenues in 2007, and employment growing 22 percent at those operations. Four of the top 10 racetrack casino markets opened new properties over the past 2 years.
The AGA report was compiled from data obtained from state regulatory agencies on 467 commercial casinos in 12 states. It did not attempt to track results at casinos run by American Indian tribes.
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