U.S. gambling revenues slip in fiscal 2009

Sep 22, 2009 7:13 PM
Staff & Wire Reports |

State and local government revenues from authorized gambling operations declined by 2.8 percent from fiscal year 2008 to 2009, marking the first time those revenues have declined in over three decades, according to a new report by the Rockefeller Institute of Government.

Data on the decline come as states continue to examine casinos, video-lottery terminals, and other gambling operations as potential sources of new revenue — with more than 25 states considering such proposals in the past year.

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According to the report, states generate tax revenues from four major types of gambling operations: state lotteries, casinos, racinos, and pari-mutuel betting.

By far the largest source of state gambling revenues is lottery income — which experienced an overall decline of 2.6 percent between fiscal years 2008 and 2009. The second-largest source is casinos, which saw their revenues decline by 8.5 percent over the same time period.

The third-largest source for gambling revenues is the newer racinos, or race track-based casinos. Revenues from those operations increased by 6.7 percent, largely because of new racinos opening in Indiana and Pennsylvania.

Pari-mutuel wagering — which generally takes place at horse racing, harness, and dog tracks — makes up a small percentage of revenues from gambling, even though it’s the longest established form of legalized gambling in many states. Preliminary figures contained in the new report indicate those revenues fell off by 14.8 percent from July to March, 2008, to July to March in 2009.

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