LAS VEGAS (AP) – Established gambling towns like Las Vegas and Atlantic City are hurting as more states start welcoming bettors' dollars, Moody's Investors Service warned this week.
The credit rating agency issued a report describing a shift in casino tax revenues away from New Jersey, Indiana and Nevada to new markets in places like Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio.
The recession crushed gambling revenues across the county, and casino towns have been slow to bounce back.
"The previously recession-proof Nevada gaming market has seen only a partial recovery since the recession," the report stated. Moody's warned that the state general fund could be in trouble if neighboring California legalized casino gambling.
While casino taxes make up less than 1 percent of New Jersey's revenue, they account for a quarter of Nevada's general fund.
In Atlantic City, where the national recession exacerbated an existing drop in visitors, gambling tax revenue has declined every year since 2006. Mississippi, home to riverboat casinos, has seen a 7.7 percent decline in gambling tax revenue over the last 10 years.
Meanwhile, struggling states have opened the doors to games of chance. Among those that have expanded legalized gambling in recent years are Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, West Virginia and Delaware.
All this is more bad news for states that previously enjoyed casino monopolies.
Pennsylvania, which has a casino market a quarter the size of Nevada's, now collects more gambling taxes than any other state. The state took in $1.5 billion in such revenue last year.
Moody's predicts these trends will continue as more states harness gambling as a new source of revenue. The result could be a redrawing of the market share and tax revenue landscape.
Casino owners have been working to draw visitors to their gambling centers with lavish clubs, high-end restaurants and outdoor novelties like the world's biggest Ferris wheel, which is under construction along the Las Vegas Strip.
Hannah Dreier can be reached at www.twitter.com/hannahdreier
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