Skift Take

Growth at casinos didn't come from traditional destinations like Las Vegas or Atlantic City, or even Native American resorts: It's upstart states like Kansas or Maine that know it's easy enough to siphon off visitors with simpler gaming experiences.

More gamblers are hitting the slots and blackjack tables in the U.S., giving the industry a 4.8% boost in 2012, its biggest since the recession.

Consumer spending at casinos grew to $37.3 billion, slightly below the industry’s 2007 record high at $37.5 billion, according to a report released Monday from the American Gaming Assn.

The boost is due to an improving economy and increased consumer spending, the trade group said. Revenues are also up because of the opening of new casinos in markets like New York City, Kansas and Ohio.

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However the rise in new casinos in the mid-Atlantic region contributed to decreased revenues in Delaware and New Jersey.

“After three years of increasing growth and positive signs in all sectors of the industry, it’s clear that we have weathered the recession,” said Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., president and CEO of AGA, in a statement.

“Whether we look at jobs, casino visitors served or tax revenues being provided, the bottom line is that there is much to be optimistic about in the commercial casino industry.”

Fifteen of the 22 states that had commercial casinos in 2011 saw increases. Kansas saw the largest boost at 603.7%, followed by Maryland and Maine with a respective 142.6% and 66.9% surge.

This was driven by the opening of new casinos or casinos that had their first full year of operations, according to AGA.

In 2012 the Garden State saw the largest drop in profits, -8% in gross gaming, as it dealt with days of casino closings and reduced tourism following Hurricane Sandy.

Nevada, the biggest gambling market with 265 operating casinos, experienced a 1.5% increase in gross gaming revenue in 2012 at $10.9 billion.

While revenues grew, gaming industry-related jobs fell by 0.9% from 2011. The more than 332,000 people who are employed by the industry earned $13.2 billion in wages, benefits and tips in 2012.

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(c)2013 the Los Angeles Times. Distributed by MCT Information Services.


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Tags: gaming, las vegas, usa

Photo credit: In this May 21, 2012 file photo, a dealer at Revel prepares for another round of roulette at the Atlantic City, N.J., casino as patrons await the result. Wayne Parry / AP Photo

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