Last month at the World Gaming Congress in Las Vegas, Nevada, the American Gaming Association (“AGA”) released its annual report on the state of the gaming industry in America. The report, entitled “State of the States: The AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment,” analyzes issues relating to employment, consumer habits and the industry’s impact on communities.
The AGA reports that there are currently more than 470 commercial casinos operating in 11 different states. As a result, the industry provides hundreds of thousands of jobs in the American workplace, while at the same time entertaining millions of consumers and generating billions of dollars in revenue. In addition to commercial casinos, the Native American gaming industry operates approximately 160 casinos in 27 states, and employs more than 150,000 people. This means that there are over 630 casinos now operating in the United States, demonstrating widespread acceptance of this entertainment activity.
Although some moral and ethical opposition exists to casino gaming, large numbers of the nation’s public – over 70 percent – agree that casinos bring widespread economic benefits to industries and business within their regions. This is evident in the statistics that show how taxes from casino gaming have increased the number of dollars available for education, health care service, public transportation, and safety efforts for the aging and disabled. In Michigan, the state levies an 18 percent tax on all gaming revenue generated by the Detroit casinos, plus a municipal services fee of the greater of 1.25 percent of total gaming revenue or $4 million annually. These taxes are spent to specifically increase education, public safety, youth development, capital improvements, and road repair.
Further, casino development has also contributed to the economic revitalization of river fronts and downtown areas across America – look at Detroit. The three interim casino openings in downtown Detroit have already helped revitalize the downtown area and have increased interest by the young crowd relocating downtown.
The AGA’s report also focused on the consumer habits of America’s senior population, finding that more than 57 percent of the seniors say that “fun and entertainment” are the primary reasons they visit casinos. Seniors primarily view gambling as a social activity, as more than 90 percent of those attending are visiting casinos with family, friends or an organized group. Additionally, 69 percent of senior citizens say they always set a budget before visiting a casino.
In the end, more Americans are enjoying casino gaming today than ever before. The AGA reports that casinos are only second to lotteries, in terms of popularity, among the various forms of gaming. Last year, 30 percent of US households gambled at a casino and made an average of 5.4 trips to a casino during the year. The advent of casinos in Detroit has only worked to help the state