Racinos Defied 2008's Declining Gaming Trend

Domestic racinos registered double-digit percentage growth in 2008

Even though overall United States casino revenues dropped for the first time this decade, domestic racinos registered double-digit percentage growth in 2008, according to a report issued May 18 by the American Gaming Association.

Year-over-year revenues at racinos -- or casinos based at Thoroughbred, Harness, Quarter Horse, and/or Greyhound tracks -- grew 17.2% to $6.19 billion last year, and more than tripling 2002, when $2 billion in revenues were recorded. Overall U.S. casino revenues fell 4.7% to $32.5 billion, the first such decline since the trade organization began tracking such trends in 1999, according to the report, which is titled "State of the States 2009: The AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment."

The AGA report called racinos the primary method of gaming expansion, noting revenue growth was realized in 9 of 11 states where such entities operated in 2007 and 2008. Here is a ranking by gross revenues (Indiana launched racinos in 2008): 

RACINO REVENUE 2007-2008      
State 2008 revenues 2007 revenues Change
Pennsylvania  $1.6  billion $1.1  billion 50.3%
West Virginia  $951.2  million $932.2  million 2.0%
New York  $947.3  million $828.2  million 14.4%
Delaware  $586.9  million $612.4  million -4.2%
Iowa  $466.9  million $455.2  million 2.6%
Rhode Island  $407.5  million $448.3  million -9.1%
Louisiana $395.4  million $369.4  million 7.0%
New Mexico  $258.1  million $244.8  million 5.4%
Florida  $228.9  million $202.3  million 13.1%
Indiana  $205.2  million -   -
Oklahoma  $92.5  million $78.7  million 17.5%
Maine  $50.5  million $43.3  million 16.8%

Yonkers, N.Y. was the top-ranked racino market by 2008 revenues with $486.46 million, according to data provided to the AGA by The Innovation Group. Charles Town, W. Va., where Penn National Gaming’s Charles Town Races & Slots is located, was second with $454.01 million. Other leading markets included Bensalem, Pa., where Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack is located; Wilmington, Del., where Delaware Park Horse Racing & Slots is located; Chester, W. Va., where Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Restaurant is located; and Broward County, Fla., where Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino is located.

Yonkers, N.Y. $486.46  million
Charles Town, W.Va. $454.01  million
Providence, R.I. $407.50  million
Bensalem, Pa. $345.50  million
Dover/Harrington, Del. $335.63  million
Chester, Pa. $328.44  million
Delaware Park/Wilmington, Del. $253.29  million
Chester, W.Va. $251.21  million
Meadow Lands, Pa. $244.05  million
Broward County, Fla. $230.21  million

At the end of 2008, there were 44 racinos located in 12 states, and tax contributions rose 16.6% to $2.59 billion. A total of 29,051 employees worked at racinos, an increase of 6.6% over 2007.

The nation in 2008 had a total of 1,606 casinos, slot parlors, and other gambling halls such as card rooms operating in 37 states where such gaming is legal. The number of casino jobs fell 1%, to more than 357,000, while total tax revenue was basically flat at $5.7 billion.