Nation’s casinos began to slowly rebound last year

May 8, 2011 9:28 AM

After two bad years in which gamblers either stayed home or held onto their wallets more tightly, the nation’s casinos began to slowly rebound last year, with revenue increasing slightly even as the number of jobs declined.

An annual American Gaming Association survey released Wednesday found the nation’s 483 commercial casinos took in $34.6 billion in 2010, an increase of just under 1 percent from the $34.28 billion posted in 2009. That marked the first time in three years the casinos’ revenue increased.

But jobs in the industry declined slightly to 340,564, a loss from 2009 of 4,346, or 1.3 percent. That was due largely to casinos shedding workers to cope with the continued sluggish economy. Oklahoma experienced the largest percentage decline in its work force when one of its three racetrack casinos closed last year, eliminating about 327 jobs.

"There’s no question the last several years have been challenging for the commercial casino industry," said Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., the association’s president. "There’s good reason to be optimistic about the future of gaming. The industry has made tough choices and implemented new strategies to persevere."

Casino taxes to state and local governments totaled nearly $7.6 billion, an increase of 3 percent.

Nevada’s casinos took in $10.4 billion, virtually the same amount as the year before.

Atlantic City, N.J., the nation’s second-largest casino market after Las Vegas, posted the biggest annual decline at 9.4 percent.