Income, employment decline at US casinos

Poker revenues in Las Vegas and Atlantic City declined last year for the first time since 2002.

Revenue and jobs at the US gambling halls fell last year as Americans became less willing to risk their money, according to a report released Monday by the national gambling industry's trade association. The study by the American Gaming Association found revenue nationwide was down 4.7 percent in 2008 to $32.5 billion. The year before, revenue had increased by 5.3%. The nation has more than 1,600 casinos, slot parlors and other gambling halls. The number of casino jobs fell 1% to more than 357,000. The gambling halls paid $5.7b. in taxes to state and local governments last year. That's down slightly from $5.8b. the year before. One-quarter of the adult US population visited a casino in 2008. The survey examined casino gambling in the United States from many angles. It found, for example, that Americans spent twice as much on cable television ($79.1b.) as they did on casino gambling, and only slightly more on gambling than they did on candy ($28b.). Illinois (20.9%) and Colorado (12.3%) experienced the largest revenue declines, due in part to smoking bans that took effect last year. Pennsylvania, meanwhile, saw its revenue soar by more than 48% last year, due to the continued growth of its racetrack slot parlors. Racetrack casinos continue to be a growth area for the gambling industry, with revenue increasing 17.2% to nearly $6.2b. There are now 44 "racinos" in 12 states, with more on the way soon. The racetrack slots parlors employed more than 29,000 people last year, a 6.6% increase. Indiana's two new racetrack slots parlors created the most new racino jobs last year, up 1,412 to more than 16,000 statewide. Pennsylvania's racetrack slots added nearly 1,200 jobs last year, bringing the statewide total to nearly 5,000. The survey counted nearly 11,500 legal slot machines in non-casino locations, such as bars or restaurants, in six states. It also found that a poker boom that began in 2003 appears to be waning. Poker revenues in Las Vegas and Atlantic City declined last year for the first time since 2002.