Think Americans hit by the down economy are turning to gambling as a solution? Think again.
Recent reports show two of the largest gaming areas in the United States are facing major revenue drops at the same time that the country is mired in a recession.
Nevada reported a 15 percent drop in gross revenue at casinos in November, and Atlantic City posted its biggest monthly drop ever, down 18.7 percent.
It marked the second year in a row that casino revenues fell in Atlantic City, where revenues had done nothing but increase for 28 straight years, since gambling was legalized there in 1978.
"These year-end numbers are the official stamp that Atlantic City had a second straight lousy year,'' said Joseph Weinert, senior vice president of Spectrum Gaming Group. "What tends to be overlooked in evaluating the 2008 numbers is the multiyear impact: Over the last two years, about $600 million in gross gaming revenue has disappeared from Atlantic City.''
Atlantic City casinos won $302 million from gamblers in December, down 18.7 percent.
Meanwhile, a report Friday from the Nevada Gaming Control Board puts the monthly gambling revenue at state casinos in November at $836.8 million. That's down from more than $982 million in November 2007.
The downturn in Nevada is not just causing a problem for the casinos, but also for the state: Taxes based on the casino wins, a major revenue source for the state, amounted to just $44.4 million in November 2008. That's down 27 percent compared with the same month in 2007.
"It's the economy, the big decline in the stock market and people tightening up on their spending," said Control Board analyst Frank Streshley. "The state is having a difficult time with (tourist) visitation and the amount of money being spent by those who do come."
The $836.8 million in revenue in November was the amount left in casino coffers after gamblers in Nevada wagered $11.8 billion during the month, including $9.7 billion in slot machine bets and the balance on table games. The betting total is down nearly 12 percent from a year ago.
The GCB report shows declines during November in every major market in the state, including the Las Vegas Strip which was down 16 percent.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.