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Survey Dispels Many Myths About Casino Patrons

20 March 2002

The American Gaming Association released a survey on March 7, 2002, that provides information on the types of people that tend to gamble at casinos. The study was conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc., and the Luntz Research Companies. It offers many interesting statistics concerning the make-up of the average casino gambler, and some people may be surprised by the final compiled data. Categories such as home ownership and family income actually saw higher marks among casino patrons than among our nation's general public. The poll shows that casino patrons are successful, well-rounded individuals who are involved in their community. The study confirms what many in the industry know to be the case. People who gamble in casinos are quite similar to the average American.

The survey informs us that 26 percent of casino patrons have a family income of more than $60,000. This is to be compared to a national average of 22 percent. This statistic disproves the common claim that it is only those with lower incomes who gamble regularly. Also, 73 percent of casino patrons own their own homes, while only 68 percent of Americans do. This reflects stability in both a familial setting and in one's career. Stable income or employment is essential to raise a family and own a home. Further, 51 percent of casino patrons read a newspaper for at least 15 minutes every day, while only 42 percent of Americans do, evoking the possibility that the average casino patron is a bit more educated than the general public. These results may be surprising to opponents of casino gambling, but to anyone involved with the industry, these reports come as no surprise.

The majority of casino patrons, both past and present, have typically been educated. Gamblers have long been interested in understanding the odds of table games and slot machines. Attempting to figure out the advantage the player holds against the house in Blackjack, calculating odds and win-win situations in Craps and dissecting the Roulette Wheel have always been focal points for gamblers, and as such, suggest a certain level of education. Often, a person's job and income are directly related to one's level of education. Thus, the household income of $60,000 plus per year is quite compatible with some form of higher education. Obviously, owning one's home is directly related to household income. The next logical step after attaining an education and a stable income is the purchase of a home. In the significant categories of readership, home ownership and annual income, casino patrons continue to exceed the national average.

Other categories contained in the study found casino patrons ranking more or less equally with the national average. It has been found that the average casino patron enjoys displaying his or her patriotism. Seventy-one percent of those polled declared that they fly an American flag outside their homes or on their automobiles, while the national average is 67 percent. Also, going hand-in-hand with patriotism, casino patrons have been found to be rather charitable. Sixty-nine percent of casino patrons donate at least $100 of their annual income to charity, just over the national average of 66 percent. These seemingly trivial issues actually say much about the type of people that enjoy casino gaming. Just like most Americans, they are concerned and compassionate citizens.

Citing other findings in the study further illustrates that the relationship between the average American and the average casino patron is one and the same. The poll shows that 45 percent of average Americans attend a weekly religious service, while 41 percent of casino patrons do the same. Moreover, 41 percent of casino patrons eat dinner with their families every night, and 42 percent of Americans engage in the same activity. These numbers continue to prove that folks who opt to engage in casino gambling are not a detriment to our society but are virtually undetectable in the American landscape. The reason? Casino patrons are average Americans.

In the past, many people were under the impression that casino gambling brought out not only the worst people, but the worst in people. Casinos have long been accused of attracting criminals, bringing unwanted people into the area where they operate and functioning as a place for criminal activity. This study dispels these myths and delivers the truth about casinos. Casino gambling has grown and evolved from the small, mostly frowned upon enterprise that it once was, into a significant and highly credible entertainment industry. Many casinos offer much more than simply gambling, such as live entertainment, a selection of restaurants and resort-style hotels. Typically, there are many options available for anyone not interested in gambling. Moreover, casinos are often cited as some of the safest places in their respective communities, due to the amount of security personnel and police patrol assigned there.

The truth of the matter is that casino patrons are just regular people seeking a form of entertainment. The majority are no different from people who attend a movie on Friday night. They are the same as folks who go to a concert or a performance. They are on-par with anyone who enjoys attending a sporting event. Casino gambling has simply become another form of entertainment, available to anyone who is interested and willing to take a risk. Casinos and their patrons have often endured false reputations, and the results of this study should help to dispel many of the myths previously associated with casino gambling. The truth is that casino patrons are no different than the typical and average American.

The American Gaming Association is planning to use the results of this study to help change the unfair reputation casino gambling and its patrons have had to endure in the past. The AGA is planning a year-long, nationwide campaign emphasizing that casino customers represent a regular, common portion of America. Their campaign theme will be "Just Like US" and will be attached to the AGA and all its events throughout this year. The results discussed in this article only represent a portion of the full report. Complete poll results will be released this spring as part of the 2002 State of the States: The AGA Survey of Casino Entertainment.

David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com
David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com