If you needed more evidence that the recession is over, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission this week issued their annual report on revenues from the casinos operating in the state.
The short story is that buoyed by the opening of the Grand Falls Resort in Larchwood, overall revenues went over the $1 billion mark -- the best year ever for casino gambling in Iowa.
Overall, the 18 state-licensed racetracks and riverboat casinos reported revenues of nearly $1.466 billion for the 12-month period that ended June 30, according to the commission's fiscal 2012 report. The nearly $457.9 million in gross adjusted receipts at Iowa's three state-licensed tracks was the second-best year ever -- falling about $5 million short of fiscal 2008 -- while the riverboat casinos topped $1 billion by more than $8 million during fiscal 2012.
Either people are hoping to strike it rich, need a diversion, or have extra money to spend.
We're not sure which of the three it is, but whatever it is, it's generating more revenue for the state.
Racing and Gaming Commission administrator Brian Ohorilko said that the over 3 percent revenue growth was directly from the new casino to our north in Larchwood, which he said drew new players from outside Iowa's border that helped grow the overall pot of money for the state's gambling industry. Gaming revenue peaked at $1.415 billion in fiscal 2008 and slipped for two straight years before rebounding with a slight upward move in fiscal 2011.
While we can not agree that gambling is an industry that we should hitch our economic future to, we do understand that it is something that will bring people to the state for tourism.
The other side of this coin are the issues with those who can not control their gaming habit. The cost of these social issues and the damage that can be done to families of those with addictive personalities is high.
It will be interesting to see if these trends continue. Promoters in Sioux Falls, SD are working on their own casino, so the Larchwood benefit may soon be gone.