Casino Revenues Are Up in 2012 – Thanks in Part to Gambling in Kansas

We're gambling almost as much as we were before the recession, and the biggest growth comes from an unlikely state.

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We’re gambling almost as much as we were before the recession, and the biggest growth comes from an unlikely state.

In 2012, U.S. casinos earned $37.3 billion in gross gaming revenue, a 4.8% increase from 2011. It was the highest since 2007, when gambling brought in a record $37.5 billion, according to the American Gaming Association.

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Not surprisingly, Nevada led all states with $10.86 billion, a 1.5% increase year-on-year. But traditional gambling meccas like Las Vegas saw only modest growth. And some states, including New Jersey (home to Atlantic City), had declining gaming revenues – largely due to damage from Hurricane Sandy.

The most substantial growth came from a state rarely associated with gaming. Kansas’s gross casino gaming revenue grew by 603.7% in 2012. It went from $48 million in 2011 in revenue to $341 million, with several casinos either opening in 2012 or operating for their first full year.

The state legalized casinos in 2007. Two years later the first one opened – the Boot Hill Casino in Dodge City. The state now has three, including the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane and the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.

The peculiar thing about Kansas’s casinos is that they’re state-owned. The 2007 bill passed by the state legislature allowed the state lottery to oversee privately operated casinos. Some antigambling organizations oppose state involvement, but the casinos are bringing in a bundle of tax revenue. In 2012, the casinos brought $92 million to state coffers, a 605% increase from 2011.

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Overall, 15 of 22 states with commercial casinos saw an increase in revenues from 2011 to 2012, according to the American Gaming Association’s annual report, which was released this week. Kansas (604% increase), Maryland (143%), Maine (67%), and New York (43%) all saw double-digit growth thanks to new casinos opening or operating for their first full calendar year.

New Jersey revenues dipped the most (8%) due to Hurricane Sandy, along with Delaware (4.7%), which the AGA partly attributes to increased gambling competition in the mid-Atlantic.

The gaming industry took a hit during the recession, reaching a low of $34.3 billion of overall revenue in 2009. Since then, it’s essentially rebounded to where it was before the recession hit.