- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 9, 2012

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. | The nation’s commercial casinos continued their slow-but-steady comeback from the recession last year, with revenues up 3 percent nationwide and jobs holding nearly steady, according to a report released Wednesday.

The American Gaming Association’s annual report noted the nation’s 492 non-Indian casinos or other legal gambling halls paid nearly $8 billion in taxes to state and local governments, a 4.5 percent increase from 2010.

The casinos took in $35.6 billion last year.

They also provided more than 339,000 jobs, a decline of less than half of 1 percent from a year earlier. And casino workers saw their pay decline by 3 percent last year, to $12.9 billion in wages, benefits and tips.

“While it may be slow, the recovery of the national commercial casino industry is well under way,” said Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., the AGA’s president.

Las Vegas remains the nation’s largest casino market, with more than $6 billion in revenue last year.

Markets where new casinos opened or where gambling had its first full year of operation, including Maryland, Kansas and New York, posted the biggest gains.

Atlantic City had the biggest revenue drop at 7 percent. Its casinos took in $3.3 billion, down from $5.2 billion in 2006, when the first of Pennsylvania’s casinos opened and began siphoning off business. Atlantic City has lost its perch as the nation’s second-largest gambling market to Pennsylvania, although the AGA report treats Pennsylvania as a series of smaller independent markets.

New Jersey was for years the only state besides Nevada with legal commercial casinos, but it now is beset by fierce competition from casinos in Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware, not to mention Indian casinos a short drive away in Connecticut.

Delaware’s casinos lost nearly 16 percent of their jobs, falling to 2,730 workers last year.

The AGA’s figures do not include Indian casinos, which took in $24.9 billion in 2010, the last year for which figures are available according to the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Maryland, where two casinos had their first full years of operation, saw casino revenue go from $27.6 million in 2010 to $155.7 million last year, an increase of 464 percent. Kansas’ casino revenue went from nearly $38 million to $48 million, an increase of 28.3 percent, and Pennsylvania’s casino revenue rose from $2.5 billion to more than $3 billion, an increase of 21.3 percent.

New York, where Resorts World opened last summer in Queens, saw a 15.6 percent increase in casino revenues.

Other notable gains in casino revenue were seen in Florida (16 percent); West Virginia (9.2 percent); Illinois (8 percent); Rhode Island (7.5 percent); and Oklahoma (6.4 percent).

Pennsylvania’s casinos paid the most taxes in the nation at $1.45 billion; Kansas paid the least at $13 million. Thirteen states saw increases in the amount of tax revenue they paid to governments last year.

Nevada’s casino revenue went from $10.4 billion to $10.7 billion, an increase of nearly 3 percent, even as jobs held roughly steady at 174,381. New Jersey’s casino jobs declined by nearly 4 percent to 32,823.

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