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Annual Survey Indicates High Acceptance of Casinos

23 June 2003

WASHINGTON -- (Press Release) -- Acceptability of casino gaming is at its highest level in years, with adults 21 to 39 leading the way in their acceptance of gaming as a mainstream entertainment activity and valuable contributor to the U.S. economy, according to nationwide survey results released today by the American Gaming Association (AGA).

According to the survey, conducted by noted pollsters Peter Hart and Frank Luntz and released as part of the AGA’s fifth annual State of the States survey, 85 percent of Americans view casino gaming as an acceptable activity for themselves or others, an increase from 79 percent in the previous year. The increased acceptance levels could be seen across all demographic levels.

A breakdown of support by age reveals even stronger acceptance of casinos among young adults. An overwhelming 91 percent of adults ages 21 to 39 said casino gaming is acceptable for themselves or others, compared with 81 percent of Americans over age 50.

"This public opinion data serves to quantify our long-held assumption that the more familiar people are with the casino industry, the more likely they are to embrace and support it," said AGA President and CEO Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr. "That adults aged 21 to 39 are most accepting validates their belief that not only are casinos a fun place to ‘get away,’ but also a source of jobs and economic growth in many communities."

The survey also reveals that more than half of Americans--54 percent--would favor the introduction of casino gaming into their area because of its economic benefits. And nearly two-thirds of respondents agreed that casinos bring widespread economic benefits to other industries and businesses within the region.

In addition to public opinion data, State of the States features compelling statistics on the economic resiliency of the commercial casino industry in the midst of a recession.

According to the survey, the 432 commercial casinos in 11 states had combined gross gaming revenues of $26.5 billion in 2002, a 3 percent increase over 2001 levels. Commercial casinos also paid $4 billion in direct gaming taxes in 2002.

More than 51 million people--roughly one-quarter of the U.S. population--visited a commercial casino in 2002, and the industry continued to be a major source of employment across the country. It provided more than 350,000 jobs with wages of nearly $10 billion in 2002.

The survey also highlights the continued success of racetrack casinos, or racinos. Located in six states across the country, this industry sector generated $2 billion in total revenue in 2002. Racinos provided more than 11,000 jobs and generated $718 million for state and local governments, an increase of approximately $140 million over 2001 levels.

"The sustained growth of commercial casinos indicates we have matured as an industry," Fahrenkopf said. "We will not only survive the tough economic times but thrive alongside state and local economies as long as they continue to apply rational tax policies. Combined with our consistently high levels of public support, this bodes well for the future of gaming."

The AGA represents the commercial casino-entertainment industry by addressing federal legislative and regulatory issues. The association also serves as a clearinghouse for information, develops educational and advocacy programs, and provides leadership on industry-related issues of public concern.

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