With the exception of the state of Utah, gambling in its various guises and forms is alive and well in the United States. This is especially true of the country’s commercial casino gaming industry, which grew by 3.5% to a record $41.7 billion in 2018.
To put that in perspective, the United States casino industry is worth $41.7 billion per year which makes it more than the gross domestic product of Luxembourg, Costa Rica, Panama and many other countries, and that’s from just 465 casinos.
Commercial casinos comprise three categories – land casinos (351), riverboat casinos (63) and racinos (51) which are casinos located at horse or dog racing venues.
Last year saw new casinos open in New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Colorado. Meanwhile, the majority of Arkansas voters supported the legalization of land casinos making it the 25th state in the union to do so, and the 41st state to offer state casinos and/or tribal casinos.
2018 Fourth Consecutive Year Casino Revenues Increased
Interestingly, 2018 marked the fourth consecutive year that land casino revenues grew in the USA. This shows a trend that every year more and more American gambling fans are trying their luck at land casinos.
In fact, since 2009, the same year the United States emerged from its recession, land casino revenues have increased year on year, 2014 being the sole exception.
Except for West Virginia and Illinois, last year every other state with land casinos recorded revenue growth on the previous year. Indeed, no less than half of states with land casinos reported record revenues.
US Casinos Generated $9.7 billion in Taxes
But the casinos were not the only winners as the respective states collectively clocked up a record $9.7 billion in state and local taxes, which helped ‘top up’ state government coffers.
Incredibly, the $41.7 billion in land casinos revenues was generated by just 465 casinos. Together these casinos employ over 360,000 personnel who in 2018 collectively earned over $17 billion in salaries, wages, tips and benefits – a great contribution to the US economy.
What the land casino revenues growth last year helped highlight is America’s growing acceptance of casino gambling as a legitimate and acceptable entertainment form.
In fact, according to recent polls more than a third of all Americans (of legal gambling age) admitted to visiting a land casino at least once during the previous year. Plus two thirds of those polled believe land casinos are beneficial to their local economies.
Notable Commercial Casino Developments
In the last year there have been some notable commercial casino developments, the most surprising one in the state of Arkansas.
Arkansas Voted for Land Casinos
When put to the vote, citizens of Arkansas gave a majority thumbs-up to four new land casinos to open for business in 2019 and beyond.
This was a ground-breaking referendum considering that up until then Arkansas had been a ‘dry state’ in terms of casino gambling, without one commercial or tribal casino to its name.
So on April 1, 2019 Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs and Southland Park Gaming & Racing in West Memphis, Arkansas officially unveiled live table games that include Blackjack, Craps and others as an accompaniment to their existing ‘electronic games of skill’ on offer.
The two remaining casinos earmarked for Jefferson and Pope Counties are expected to open later this year.
US States with the Most Land Casinos
There are currently 19 US states with land casinos. Of those, the state with the most is (unsurprisingly) Nevada with 217. Contrary to popular belief, casinos are located in 39 Nevada cities/towns other than the main cities of Las Vegas and Reno.
These includeTopaz Lake, Pahrump, Indian Springs, Paradise, Elko, Sunrise Manor, Jean, Dayton, Primm, Tonopah, Gardnerville, Searchlight, Spring Creek, Summerlin, Ely, Verdi, Beatty, Stateline, Crystal Bay and Yerington.
Next on the list of US states with the most brick and mortar casinos is Colorado with 33, followed by South Dakota with 25, Iowa with 16 and Mississippi with 13.
The other states with land casinos include New Jersey (9), Pennsylvania (6), Maryland (5), Florida (4), Kansas (4), New York (4), Ohio (4), Michigan (3), Indiana (2), Rhode Island (2), Louisiana (1), Maine (1) and Massachusetts (1).
US States with the Most Riverboat Casinos
There are only 6 states with riverboat casinos. These are casinos that are operational or permanently moored on, alongside or within close proximity of a river or waterway.
The states of Mississippi and Louisiana each have 15 riverboat casinos while Missouri has 13, Illinois 10, Indiana 9 and Iowa 1.
US States with the Most Racinos
There are 9 states with casino facilities attached to one or more of their racetracks.
These are New York (9), Ohio (7), Pennsylvania (6), New Mexico (5), Florida (4), Louisiana (4), West Virginia (4), Delaware (3), Indiana (2), Iowa (2), Oklahoma (2), Massachusetts (1), Maryland (1) and Maine (1).
Tribal Casinos within the United States
As of 2018 there are 514 tribal casinos in the United States which collectively yield over $30 billion per annum. Despite being located on tribal lands, tribal casinos are a huge contributor to America’s overall love of land-based casinos.
Although there are a slew of Native American Tribes that offer casino gambling, their collective casino interests and governance thereof fall under the parameters laid out in the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988.
So popular are tribal casinos, in fact, that new ones open virtually every year. To date a total of 29 USA states house tribal casinos.
These include Oklahoma which leads the way with a total of 139, followed by California with 76, Minnesota with 40, Washington with 34, and New Mexico with 27.
Last year Indiana became the 29th state to open a tribal casino.
Most Lucrative US Casino Areas by State
In 2018, Las Vegas was the most lucrative of all US casino areas / markets with total revenues of almost $6.6 billion.
Las Vegas’s revenue was more than double its closest rival and fellow Nevada gambling hotspot, Atlantic City, which generated just over $2.5 billion in total revenues.
The next most lucrative US casino market was Chicago with $1.95 billion, followed by Washington D.C.-Baltimore ($1.9 billion), New York City ($1.45 billion), Detroit ($1.44 billion), Philadelphia ($1.30 billion), Gulf Coast ($1.22 billion), St. Louis ($1 billion) and The Poconos ($943 million).
Online Gambling / iGaming-friendly US States
Currently only four out of America’s 50 states boast legalised and regulated iGaming / online gambling industries, and although a handful of other states have signalled an interest in following suit, to date none have.
America’s four online gambling-friendly states are Nevada, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and a brief summary of their current iGaming status is highlighted below.
The only form of online gambling permitted within Nevada state lines is online poker.
Pennsylvania is the latest state to legalise online gambling and although it hasn’t as yet, it can host licensed online casinos, sportsbooks and poker rooms.
The state of New Jersey can host licensed online casinos and online poker rooms.
This state can offer online casino games, online poker and online sports betting.
It’s all about the Benjamins
What the above facts and figures demonstrate is that the United States casino industry is going from strength to strength and that the better the economy, the more people frequent land casinos and the more they tend to spend on average.
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