Gambling Slowdown Reduces States' Take

The economic slowdown that has battered the bottom line of states has also reduced their take of gambling taxes, according to a report released Thursday (May 6).

The American Gaming Association said gaming revenues dropped 5.5 percent across the country last year. State revenues from taxes on gaming dropped 1.6 percent.

New Jersey, home to the casinos along the boardwalk of Atlantic City, took the biggest hit, as its gaming tax revenues dropped 18.6 percent between 2008 and 2009. Nevada and Mississippi were hard-hit too, losing 10.4 percent and 9.4 percent, respectively.

But four of the 13 states that allow commercial casinos actually did better last year than in the previous year. The report credits voter initiatives in 2008 that legalized more gambling for boosting revenues in both Colorado and Missouri. Colorado raised its bet limit from $5 to $100; and state gaming taxes increased by 2.6 percent. Missouri did away with a rule that limited gamblers' losses to $500 in a two-hour period; its taxes went up 5.9 percent.

By far the biggest revenue winner, though, was Pennsylvania, which opened two new casinos in 2009. Its gaming revenues jumped by 21.6 percent. 

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