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Published on Thursday, May 10, 2007

It’s in the cards: record gambling numbers spurring US tourism

The growth of gambling continues to fuel the tourism market, with revenues at US commercial casinos rising 6.8% to a record $32.4 billion last year, according to a survey released by the American Gaming Association.

American Gaming Association president Frank Fahrenkopf attributed the growth to the public's relative willingness to approve such expansion.

"You don't run into the old NIMBY argument -- not in my backyard," Mr Fahrenkopf told reporters on a conference call.

The survey collected data from state regulatory agencies on 460 commercial casinos in 11 states.

The survey found strong growth in the 36 racetrack casinos across 11 states, which reported 16% more in gambling revenue than the previous year, or $3.6 billion.

The biggest gambling states by commercial casino revenue were Nevada at $12.6 billion, New Jersey at $5.2 billion, Indiana at $2.6 billion, Mississippi at $2.6 billion, Louisiana at $2.6 billion, and Illinois at $1.9 billion.

Poker continued its four-year rise in popularity in Nevada and New Jersey, though the survey showed a slowdown in the rate of revenue growth.

Legalized casino gambling has become one of America's favorite forms of recreation, according to a recent wire report.

A Yankelovich study of 100,000 households found that 27% had gambled at least once.

Since 1992, 48 states have introduced legalized casino gambling.

The Public Broadcasting Service's "Frontline" reported that Americans spend more money on gambling than on movies, theme parks, and live entertainment.

In America, gaming revenue exceeds $500 billion a year and the number of casino-bound Americans has doubled in the past five years.

Report by David Wilkening

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