How the Instant Gratification of Gambling is Helping Casino Gaming Grow in the US

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If you’ve ever been to Vegas, you understand the tricks that casinos use to trap guests. No clocks mean you have no concept of time, free drinks impair judgement, and the maze-like structures, bright lights, and colors can keep you lost and discombobulated.

Segmentation of US casino market by type of game

Source: Technavio, 2015

We’re all aware of these tactics—they’re hardly subtle. And we know the house always wins. So why bother with casinos and gambling at all?

According to Dr Luke Clark, a researcher in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Cambridge, gambling creates an ‘illusion of control’ and stimulates the reward centres of our brains, similar to food, sex, and even cocaine. For most people, this provides a good time, a brief high and that’s about it. It only becomes an issue in the 1% of the population considered to be “problem gamblers”.

Previous research has shown a reliable pattern of brain activity when humans receive monetary wins. In particular, a region called the striatum, near the centre of the brain, is a crucial component in a reward circuit that also responds to natural reinforcers like food and sexual stimuli, as well as drugs of abuse like cocaine. – Univeristy of Cambridge, “The Psychology of Gambling

Loss chasing, distorted ideas about the odds, and belief in betting systems keep us funnelling our hard earned cash into casinos with gusto—in 2015, casinos (both online and physical) in the US made $73.32 billion. This number is expected to reach $93.6 billion by 2020.

Top 39 states in the US by casino gaming revenue ($ millions)

Source: Technavio, 2015

Four reasons casino gaming is growing in the US

More states regularizing casinos

While Nevada accounted for 36% of the country’s casino revenue in 2005, this share declined to 16.2% in 2015 due to regularization of casinos in other states. Ohio, Kansas, and Maryland have expanded their markets, and many other states are anticipated to increase the number of casinos in their areas during the forecast period.

Expansion of online gambling

Online casinos grew by 212.7% in terms of revenue in 2015, which indicates that the segment is set to be the future of the casino market. The possibility of exponential growth in the segment is increasing, with many states considering legalization of online gambling.  

Growth in tourism 

Although gambling is still illegal in a number of states, some jurisdictions are legalizing casinos to attract tourists. The tourism industry in the country has grown consistently since the end of the economic recession, and the US is one of the few countries that allows advertisements for casinos, which also increases the number of tourists visiting casinos in the country.

Immense contribution to national economy

The casino industry in the US accounts for 0.41% of the nation’s GDP and the taxes paid by casinos help support economic activities and provide substantial employment opportunities. In 2015, the US casino market generated half a million jobs and more than $13 billion in tax revenue.