During the 1990s, state governments began legalizing riverboat and barge gaming. Some states further required that gaming activities only be conducted while the riverboats were cruising. The casinos restricted to riverboat gaming were built as stand-alone operations and their contributions to their local community came primarily in the form of tax revenue and jobs – and they delivered. Since then, these riverboat and barge casinos have chosen to add hotels and other non-gaming amenities to serve their casino guests better. The riverboat casinos remote location precluded any opportunity to merge these new amenities into other city entertainment activities. The Casinos essentially became self-contained islands within the confines of larger urban environments.
In the last several years, as casinos became land-based, they have been used as a catalyst for urban regeneration. Each new casino learns from its predecessors how to better integrate into the surrounding community and how to leverage local, existing businesses into the activation of a downtown entertainment district. In the last 24 months, several urban casinos have successfully increased local business traffic and revenues achieving the larger goal of creating an active downtown with a casino versus a casino that exists in an island.
(Source: Klebanow, Andrew M., Casinos and the City: A White Paper on the History of Casino Development in Cities, Past and Current Trends, and Recommendations for Future Development, Global Market Advisors LLC)
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