The U.S. commercial casino industry realized its second-largest year in gross gaming revenues ever in 2012, according to a economic impact study released today by the American Gaming Association.
The annual State of the States: The AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment shows an industry that has now seen three consecutive years of escalating growth — reaching its highest levels of gross gaming revenues since prior to the recession that began in 2008.
The report includes public opinion polls that indicate a majority of American adults view casino gaming as acceptable for themselves or others. It also includes some information about gaming in Mississippi.
“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 AGA, said in a press release from the AGA. He will be honored this week in Biloxi with a lifetime achievement award during the Southern Gaming Summit.
The report reveals that in 2012, gross gaming revenue at commercial casinos rose 4.8 percent to $37.34 billion. States and local communities benefitted from $8.6 billion returned from this revenue in the form of gaming tax contributions. This represents an 8.5 percent increase over 2011 figures. The nation’s high mark was in 2007 with $37.54 billion in revenue.
Fifteen of the 22 states that had commercial casinos operating during 2011 saw their gross gaming revenues increase during 2012, and casino expansion played a large role in the industry’s growth.
Mississippi was one of those states with higher gross gaming revenues after a jump from $2.54 billion in 2011 to $2.55 billion in 2012. But those numbers are tempered by the fact that the 2011 numbers were down drastically because of the Mississippi River floods, which closed some casinos for a month. Because of the recession, weather events and increased competition, the state’s numbers have been on a gradual decline since reaching its high of $2.89 billion in 2007.
Figures show Mississippi is the sixth largest of the 23 states that offer gaming, trailing 1. Nevada, $10.86 billion; 2. Pennsylvania, $3.16 billion; 3. New Jersey, $3.05 billion; 4. Indiana, $2.61 billion; and 5. Louisiana, $2.40 billion.
The states that saw the greatest increases in gaming revenue were previously underserved markets where new casinos have recently opened, such as Maryland, Kansas, Maine, New York and Ohio (which became the 23rd commercial casino state last year).
Broken into further detail, the Mississippi Gulf Coast is the nation’s eighth-largest casino market, while the Tunica area is the 10th-largest market. The leading markets are Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Chicago, Detroit, Connecticut, Philadelphia, Pa., and St. Louis.
Casinos nationwide provided jobs for more than 330,000 workers, and in 2012, workers earned $13.2 billion in wages, benefits and tips, a 2.3 percent increase over 2011. Mississippi is the third-largest state in the nation with 23,377 workers, trailing only Nevada (170,206) and New Jersey (34,726). Total casino wages for Mississippi in 2012 were $847.66 million
The report’s national poll paints a picture of casino customers and their behavior. In the past 12 months, 34 percent of Americans visited casinos. About 69 percent of casino-goers ate in a fine dining restaurant, and 55 percent saw a show, concert or other form of live entertainment. About 26 percent of casino visitors say they never or rarely gamble when they visit casinos.
Also of note, 85 percent of Americans view casino gaming as acceptable for themselves or others. This figure represents the highest acceptability level in the last decade. Further, young adults are even more favorable toward casino gaming, with 89 percent of those ages 21-39 saying it is acceptable for themselves or others.
Public polling data included in the report were collected by VP Communications Inc. in conjunction with national pollster Peter D. Hart. For the national survey, VP Communications interviewed a base sample of 800 American adults from Feb. 25 – March 1. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 3.5 percent. VP Communications also conducted the survey of 300 past-year casino visitors age 21-35. The oversample polling was conducted via landline telephone, cellular telephone and online from March 2 – 7.
Parts of this report were provided by the American Gaming Association