Casino gambling has grown substantially in recent years in many parts of the world. While an exhaustive review of the current state of global casino gaming and that growth 30 casinos is beyond the scope of this chapter, it is useful to highlight the forms of taxation used in selected major global casino markets. For a useful overview of casinos around the world, see Thompson 1998. The following section reviews casino taxation in the United States, Singapore, and Macau.
United States In the United States casino gambling was first permitted legally in the State of Nevada in 1931 and in New Jersey in 1976. Since those two pioneering states legalized casinos, a number of other states have legalized casino gambling in various forms (riverboat, land-based, and racetrack casinos). Over the very active period 1989–1996 nine states legalized casinos (Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, and South Dakota).
Native American casinos operate in 28 states on land sovereignly controlled by the tribes, regardless of state laws regarding the legality of casinos. William Evans and Julie Topoleski (2002) provide a useful overview of the growth of Native American gaming, in particular. The American Gaming Association (AGA) (2011) reports that in 2011 casinos were operating in 38 states, including 438 land-based or riverboat casinos in 15 states, 45 racetrack casinos in 12 states, and 456 tribal casinos in 28 states.
The AGA survey also indicates that casinos paid a total of $34.6 billion in taxes in 2010, of which $7.59 billion was paid in direct gaming taxes to state and local governments. For a comprehensive review of casino taxation in the United States, see Anderson 2005. The most recent 50-state review of casino gambling in the United States is provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures (2010).
States apply wagering taxes to casinos along with other taxes on admissions and/or license fees. The most important tax revenue source is the wagering tax. The tax base is some form of adjusted gross receipts (AGR) with some variation in the precise definition across states. In 2011 rates applied to the AGR base varied from a low of 4 percent to a high of 50 percent. Rate structures are flat in some states and graduated in others.
Other than wagering taxes, casinos in the United States may also be subject to other forms of taxation. Riverboat casinos are typically required to charge an admission tax of each gambler. Tax rates generally range from a low of $2 per admission to a high of $5 per admission. In some states, the admissions tax varies with the casino’s patronage or the size of the casino facility. In other cases, the admissions tax varies across local government units, as proscribed by the state. Ranjana Madhusudhan (1996, 1999) was the first to document the emerging importance of all forms of gaming revenue among state and local government units in the United States.