States Lose Shirts as Gamblers Cut Back

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2009 8:13 AM CDT
In this June 4, 2009 photo, patrons play slot machines at the Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona, Iowa.   (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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(Newser) – Every state but Utah and Hawaii allows some form of legal gambling, and most have come to rely on it as a growing source of revenue. Unfortunately, a lot fewer people are hitting the slots or buying lotto tickets these days, the Wall Street Journal reports. Commercial casinos produced 2.2% less revenue last year, falling in eight of the 12 states that allow them.

Nevada, which relies on gambling for 30% of its funds, saw that revenue fall 15%. Lotteries are being hit, too; in a sample of 20 states, 14 saw year-over-year lotto declines in 2008. “States can no longer count on gambling when it comes to closing budget gaps,” said one analyst.  The reason, according to one casino president: “People are afraid. Their wealth in their mind has changed.”