ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. Things are looking up for most of the nation's commercial casinos, as gambling revenue increased by nearly 5 percent last year and jobs held roughly steady.
According to the annual survey of casinos by the American Gaming Association, America's non-tribal casinos took in $37.3 billion from gamblers last year, an increase of 4.8 percent over 2011.
It marked the second-highest total ever, second only to 2007 when casinos took in $37.5 billion just before the Great Recession hit.
'By almost all measures, our industry is expanding and growing, which is good news for our employees and the communities where they live and work, ' said Frank Fahrenkopf, the association's president.
There were 513 commercial casinos last year, up from 492 in 2011. Las Vegas remains the nation's top gambling market, with more than $6.2 billion in revenue last year.
The report found that 15 of the 22 states that had commercial casinos last year saw gambling revenues increase, led by Kansas, Maryland, Maine and New York, each of which opened new casinos in 2012. Ohio became the 23rd state with a commercial casino last year.
New Jersey experienced the largest decline in casino revenue. Despite adding a 12th casino, Atlantic City's revenues fell 8 percent last year to just over $3 billion. The city's casinos continue to fight increased competition in neighboring states and were hurt by the after-effects of Superstorm Sandy, which kept some visitors away for months.
New Jersey has seen its casino revenue fall from a high of $5.2 billion in 2006. It is hoping that Internet gambling, which it legalized this year, will help rejuvenate the market.
Delaware, which also is battling a glut of casinos in the mid-Atlantic region, saw its casino revenue fall 4.7 percent to $526.6 million last year. It, too, will offer Internet gambling this year. Indiana was down 4 percent, to $2.61 billion.
Casinos paid $8.6 billion in taxes to state and local governments last year, an increase of 8.5 percent.
Employment at the casinos was down less than 1 percent, with about 322,000 people holding jobs.
The AGA's figures do not include Indian casinos, which took in $26.1 billion in 2011, the last year for which figures are available, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission. It said last year's figures will not be available until early summer.
The report also included detailed surveys of gamblers that showed their habits and preferences.
More than 76 million Americans visited a casino last year,. Fine dining is the most popular nongambling attraction for casino patrons, while more than a quarter of all casino patrons never or rarely gamble when they visit a casino.
Playing the lottery remains the most popular form of gambling in America, with just over half of respondents saying they bought a ticket last year. Internet gambling represented only 3 percent of U.S. gambling activity.
Revenues at Colorado casinos in 2012 reached $766.25 million, up 2.2 percent from the year before, according to the American Gaming Association survey. Tax revenue from Colorado casinos rose 2 percent to $104.26 million. Casino jobs in Colorado edged up 0.2 percent last year to 9,278.