Love it or hate it, the gambling industry in the United States is one of the largest, most economically important industries in our country. Commercial casinos are by far the largest player in the world of gambling in the United States. Even when you consider the introduction of online gambling, off track betting and other various venues the American public has to choose from, the good old fashioned casino is still where most Americans who chose to gamble spend their time and money. Las Vegas, the gambling epicenter of the United States boasts an excess of 39 million visitors annually. That's pretty remarkable for a city with a population, including the metropolitan area, of just around two million.
While there are many attractions that bring visitors to the Las Vegas area, the big draw is clearly the casinos and legal gambling the city has to offer. While Las Vegas is without question the largest and most popular gambling venue in the United States, when you combine the number of casinos there with the many other smaller cities in America that center around gambling, for example Reno NV, and Atlantic City NJ, you begin to see how the gambling industry is easily one of the largest industries in the nation.
Who are Americans casino gamblers?
So who exactly are the people doing all of this gambling in America. When we take a look at the typical visitor to American casinos we begin to see a picture that may surprise people. When we hear the word "gambler" we hear the Kenny Rogers song in our heads and we see a lonely cowboy in a dusty casino playing cards and waiting for the next gunfight. Or perhaps, we picture the desperate outcast, betting everything he has to try to make the mortgage payment. In reality, the modern gambler is nothing like these caricatures we develop in our minds. According to a recent study done by Harrah's, the average age of visitors to casinos is 46 years old. We may think of a young party crowd when we think of a casino gambling crowd. But the truth is the average gambler is more mature. We also tend to think of gambling as more of a male dominated hobby. This also a misconception. According to the American Gaming Association, in a 2012 opinion poll the gap between male gamblers vs. female gamblers was quite small. The results of that poll showed 29% of all males polled had visited a casino in the last year while 26% of female respondents had visited a casino in that same time frame. Another somewhat surprising fact regarding casino patrons is their average household income.
According to a 2006 Harrah's report, the average household income of casino visitors is just over $56,000 per year. That is $8,000 per year higher than the median household income for that year. What that tells us is that those people who choose casinos as the place to spend their entertainment dollar typically have an above average income. Again this dispels the image of the young college crowd and the desperate gambler.
how much money they spend at the casino?
So, now we know who is in the casinos, let's take a look at how they are spending their money while they are there. If you have ever been in a casino you know that you have many options when it comes to how and where to try your luck. Your options range from a variety of slot machines, video poker, live card games such as black jack and others, as well as live games such as roulette and craps. Without question the most popular choice for casino goers is the machines. According to the same 2006 Harrah's study, slot machines and video poker accounted for 53% of all casino gambling. Live gambling such as card games, roulette, craps and all others combined for just 36%, leaving just a small percentage for the sports betting. Just a quick note for my readers who may be curious, as I was, about the percentage of gambling done online as opposed to in casinos. According to the American Gaming Association, in 2011 of all the people surveyed 27% said they had gambled in a casino in the past 12 months. The same poll revealed just 4% of those surveyed said they had gambled online in the same time period. Which is why I chose to focus this article on the casino gamblers.
It appears the preconceived image in our mind of the typical "gambler" needs to change. When we talk about gamblers we are no longer talking about rough and tumble outlaws playing cards. Nor are we talking about the degenerate who is spending his family's grocery money on a long shot, hoping to hit the big score. No, the modern gambler is more likely a middle aged, male or female, who makes a good living. Today's gambler is more likely to sit down alone at a slot machine or a video poker machine that sit down at a table across from someone dealing cards.
Today gambling in a casino is as accepted a form of entertainment as going to a movie or catching a baseball game. This may be due, in part, to the fact that casinos now offer so much in the way of entertainment than just gambling alone. Most larger casinos are connected to grand luxury hotels offering dining, Broadway style shows, gift shops, elaborate pools with fountains and themes. Today visiting a casino is an experience for all the senses. Casino gambling has become so mainstream and family friendly that it is no wonder the gambling industry is, and will continue to be, one of the largest industries in the U.S. So, the next time you hear Kenny Rogers singing about the gambler on the radio perhaps the picture you get in your head will be just a little different.