The American Gaming Association (AGA) has released the 2018 edition of its flagship publication, State of the States: The AGA Survey of the Commercial Casino Industry. The annual report provides a comprehensive overview of the commercial casino industry and the significant economic impact it has in the 24 US states with commercial gaming operations.

Key among the findings from the report was that the commercial gaming industry brought in  $40.28bn in gaming revenue in 2017, a 3.4 per cent increase over 2016. It is the first time that gaming revenue has gone beyond the $40bn mark. Gaming was also a significant revenue generator for states – with the nation’s 460 casino locations contributing $9.23bn in revenue from commercial gaming taxes alone.

Additionally, said the report, 20 commercial casino states experienced revenue increases in 2017, reflecting strong macroeconomic trends and sustained job growth in most parts of the country.

AGA’s annual State of the States report includes state-by-state analyses of revenue, tax data and wage and employment information from the previous year. For the first time, the 2018 edition combines two of AGA’s signature publications: States of the States and US Gaming Industry Review – into one comprehensive overview of the 24 US states with commercial casino gaming.

The report also provides a state-by-state breakdown of the legality of types of gaming and number of casinos, as well as a look at the primary competition faced by casinos in each state and summarizes the year’s major gaming policy discussions relevant to gaming operators and suppliers.

Stacy Papadopoulos, interim CEO of the American Gaming Association, heralded the publication of the document, saying: “Each year, AGA’s State of the States report provides the most detailed snapshot available of our complex industry, and the many benefits AGA members provide for their employees, partners and communities.”

She added: “This year’s report demonstrates the commercial gaming industry’s role as a job creator and revenue generator in states across the country, and we’re proud of the industry’s steady growth over the past few years.”

Focusing on the economic impact, the report confirmed that the $9.23bn of tax revenue from gaming – an increase of 3.1 per cent over 2016 – does not include tax from income, sales or the payroll taxes paid by gaming operators. It also noted that the commercial casino industry directly employed more than 361,000 employees in 2017, and those employees earned more than $17bn in wages, benefits and tips.

While commercial gaming is the primary focus of the AGA’s annual report, it also covers the fortunes of the Tribal gaming segment which has also performed exceptionally well during 2017: It revealed: “In addition to commercial casino gaming in 24 states, tribal casinos with either Class II and/or Class III gaming were fully operational across 28 states – a number that’s expected to increase. According to the National Indian Gaming Commission, tribal gaming revenues hit a record $32.4bn in 2017, up 3.9 per cent from the previous year. Tribal gaming was driven by the same underlying consumer trends that benefited commercial gaming.”

SBC Americas analysis: $40.28bn is a big number; a record number in fact for commercial casino revenues in the US. The figure is backed by one very interesting statistic – namely that only four of the 24 commercial casino states failed to show year-on-year revenue growth. That says much about the economic strength of the US and, as this exhaustive report cites, sustained job growth in most parts of the country. But there are competitive challenges ahead. More new casinos are on the way and there is the nascent sports betting market to consider. Operators will clearly need to work harder still to squeeze out more of those discretionary dollars from their customers.