by Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr.
President & CEO, American Gaming Association
[Reprinted with permission of the author. All rights reserved]
I've always said that the gaming industry has a great story to tell. That couldn't be more true than it is now with the recent results of a micro-economic impact study of three gaming jurisdictions conducted by the prestigious international accounting firm Arthur Anderson.
The study, "Economic Impacts of Gaming in the United States, Volume 2: Micro Study," reveals the positive economic impact that gaming has had in three US. jurisdictions where gaming has been operational since 1992--Joliet, Ill.; Shreveport/Bossier City, LA.; and Gulfport/Biloxi, MISS. It is the second part of an Arthur Anderson study released in December 1996, "Economic Impacts of Gaming in the United States, Volume 1: Macro Study," which examines the economic impacts of casino gaming on the economy of the entire United States.
Casino gaming has had a significant positive economic impact in the three regions studied, a finding that is consistent with economic reports from other new casino jurisdictions. All three areas experienced the creation of thousands of new jobs that pay above the state averages and employ a larger proportion of minorities and women than do other employers in the regions. On average in the three jurisdictions studied, the tax-to-wage ratio was 60 cents paid in state and local taxes for every $1 paid in wages. These revenues have gone to pay for community services and played an extremely important part of each city's budget. The number of people on public assistance, such as welfare, Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and food stamps has dropped dramatically in all three jurisdictions, as well. And finally, in each jurisdiction, the introductions of casinos has led to growth in other areas, such as retail sales, commercial and new housing construction and restaurants. The following sampling of statistics speaks for itself:
¸ In 1996, approximately 35 percent of those employed by the 10 casinos in the area were minorities, while minorities held only 22 percent of the jobs in the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).
¸ Sixty-two percent (11,200) of the 18,100 jobs created in the area since 1990 were created by casinos.
¸ Women held approximately 60 percent of the area's casino jobs in 1996.
¸ Harrison County retail sales tax collections rose from $79.1 million in 1992 to $130.3 million in 1995.
¸ The number of AFDC recipients dropped more than nine percent in 1995 and 15 percent in 1996.
¸ After increasing steadily for many years, the number of food stamp recipients has dropped steadily each year since 1993.
¸ Casinos paid $76 million in 1996 state and local gaming taxes, up from $68 million in 1995.
Shreveport/Bossier City, Louisiana
¸ From 1993 to 1996, 56 percent of casino employees in three gaming facilities were African-American or another racial minority.
¸ More than one-half (5,100) of the 10,000 new jobs created in the region between 1993 and 1994 were created by the opening of casinos.
¸ Casinos paid $110 million in 1996 in state and local gaming taxes, up from $99 million in 1995.
¸ AFDC payments dropped 14 percent in 1995 and 15 percent more in 1996.
¸ The number of food stamp recipients dropped by 15 percent in 1996.
¸ In 1994, the year in which the casinos opened, retail sales in Shreveport and Bossier City increased by more than 10 percent, the highest growth rate in 11 years.
¸ In 1995, 21 percent of the employees at the two Joliet casinos were African-American or another minority, and approximately 58 percent were women.
¸ Casinos paid $82 million in 1996 state and local gaming taxes.
¸ Retail sales were $3.2 billion in 1995, up from $2.4 billion in 1992, the year casinos opened.
¸ Unemployment rates dropped from 12 percent in 1992 to nine percent in 1994.
¸ After a steady increase in the first five years of the decade, the number of AFDC recipients has dropped by more than 14 percent since 1994.
¸ The number of food stamp recipients in Will County has dropped 14 percent since 1993.
These findings provide concrete evidence supporting the power of the expanding gaming industry. The focus on specific regions new to the gaming industry gives us solid documentation that enables us to chip away at the half-truths and full lies that too many people believe about our industry. Gaming may not be right for every community--it is not a magic economic silver bullet; however, if made part of a carefully-crafted economic development plan, as in the cases of Joliet, Ill.; Shreveport/Bossier City, LA.; and Gulfport/Biloxi, MISS., gaming can help revitalize communities and allow them to prosper.