Gambling Industry in Nevada, Las Vegas, and New Jersey

Nevada, however, is unique. Roughly 85 percent of Nevada’s gambling revenues come from out-of-state tourists. Thus, Nevada receives the economic benefits of the dollars lost to gambling, while the attendant social and economic impacts of unaffordable gambling losses are visited on the families and communities in the states from which those individuals come. Every other gambling venue in the United States is far more reliant on spending by citizens in a far more concentrated geographic area. In many cases, gambling operations are overwhelmingly dependent on spending by local citizens. For instance, a survey of 800 riverboat gamblers in Illinois found more than 85 percent lived within 50 miles of the casino in which they were gambling. 85

In New Jersey, the gambling industry is also a significant factor in the local and state-wide economy. The New Jersey Casino Control Commission, in a report to this Commission, found that the gambling industry created gross casino gambling revenues of $3.79 billion in 1996; paid revenue taxes totaling $303.2 million in 1996; generated $717 million for redevelopment projects in Atlantic City (including investment in low and moderate income housing, historic restoration projects and nonprofit facility improvement) as well as an additional $69 million for projects state-wide since 1984 through contributions to the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA); provided 50,000 full and part-time jobs with a payroll exceeding $1 billion before fringe benefits; contributed to the creation of another 48,000 indirect jobs with wages of almost $1 billion in 1994; spent $1.54 billion on goods and services with more than 3,400 companies in New Jersey and almost $2.5 billion with more than 8,000 companies across the United States in 1996; and expects to invest $5 billion or more for the development of casino hotel facilities during the next several years. 86 Similar pictures of the economic impact of casinos have been found in Mississippi and elsewhere. 87

Las Vegas is heralded as an economic success story even by those who oppose gambling in other jurisdictions. Las Vegas weathered the recessionary years of the early 90’s better than many cities, and its economy performs well even when gambling revenues are flat. During 1998, the city posted significant gains in economic indicators such as employment, taxable sales, and home sales. 88 At the end of 1998, the city’s unemployment rate was just 2.8 percent. Statewide unemployment reached an all-time low of 3.1 percent in December 1998, and Nevada led the nation in job growth for the fourth quarter of 1998. 89

These are impressive economic statistics, demonstrating a profound economic impact in terms of economic growth employment. However, the economic boons of gambling are not always so clear cut. In a study of four Western mining communities that introduced gambling, one study found that gambling:

84 Nevada Commission on Tourism, Gaming. Made in Nevada. Creating Pride, Opportunity and Hope in the Silver State and Nevada Resort Association, Media Fact Book (November 10-11, 1998).. 85 Ricardo C. Gazel and William N. Thompson, “Casino Gamblers in Illinois: Who Are They?” Better Government Association, (1996) p. 7. 86 New Jersey Casino Control Commission, “Casino Gambling in New Jersey,” A Report to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission (January 1998). 87 American Gaming Association. 88 Monica Caruso, “Economy ends year with gains,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, (March 17, 1999), p. 1D. 89 “Nevada jobless rate falls to lowest in history,” Associated Press, (February 3, 1999).