Things are looking up for most of the nation’s commercial casinos, as gambling revenue increased by nearly 5 percent last year and jobs held roughly steady.
According to the annual survey of casinos by the American Gaming Association, America’s nontribal casinos took in $37.3 billion from gamblers last year, an increase of 4.8 percent over 2011.
It marked the second-highest total ever, second only to 2007 when casinos took in $37.5 billion just before the recession hit.
“By almost all measures, our industry is expanding and growing, which is good news for our employees and the communities where they live and work,” said Frank Fahrenkopf, the association’s president.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Kansas topped the states growing casino revenue, with a more than 600 percent increase between 2011 and 2012. The state had a number of new casinos open in late 2011 and in 2012, and those included Star Casino in Mulvane.
Nationwide, there were 513 commercial casinos 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.
New Jersey experienced the largest decline in casino revenue. Despite adding a 12th casino, Atlantic City’s revenues fell 8 percent last year to just over $3 billion. The city’s casinos continue to fight increased competition in neighboring 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. It is hoping that Internet gambling, which it legalized this year, will help rejuvenate the market.
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.
Casinos paid $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 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. It said last year’s figures will not be available until early summer.
Pennsylvania saw 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. “There’s a price for that, and unfortunately Atlantic City has gotten hit with the price for that. If you live in Pennsylvania you no longer have to drive an hour and 15 minutes to Atlantic City to play the slots.”
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 last year.
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.
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. Internet gambling represented only 3 percent of U.S. gambling activity.