Thursday May 10, 2012

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -- 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 over 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. "The state of the industry is good; the prospects for its future are solid."

The report also found that more than a quarter of casino patrons surveyed said they rarely or never gamble, indicating that casinos are doing a better job of offering non-gambling attractions such as fine restaurants, spas, nightclubs and big-name entertainment.

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 posted the biggest gains, including Maryland, Kansas and New York.


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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 from New Jersey. Atlantic City has lost its perch as the nation’s second-largest gambling market to Pennsylvania, although the AGA report treats Pennsyl vania as a series of smaller independent markets.

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.

Slot machines and video poker were the favorite forms of casino gambling nationwide, with 53 percent of survey respondents choosing it first. Blackjack was second at 23 percent, followed by poker (7 percent), and craps and roulette (3 percent each).