The American Gaming Association (AGA) has published its State of the States 2020 report, offering a definitive study of the US commercial gaming industry in 2019, complete with key financial performance data and other metrics for the 25 states with commercial gaming operations.

The headline findings show that commercial gaming revenue topped $43.6bn in 2019, up 3.7%  from 2018 and the fifth straight year of revenue growth, while 21 of 25 commercial gaming states experienced year-over-year revenue increases. 

Massachusetts (+163.1%), New Jersey (+19.5%), and Arkansas (+15.1%) reported the largest jumps. The industry as a whole, meanwhile, generated $10.2bn in gaming taxes for state and local governments, enough to support the annual education cost for 832,000 elementary and secondary school students.

In its preamble, the report sets out: “Not only did annual commercial casino revenue hit a new high in 2019, but direct commercial gaming tax revenue generated more than $10bn for state and local governments for the first time ever. 

“This is a 4.1% increase from 2018 and does not account for the billions more in sales, income, and other taxes from gaming. The $10.2bn in taxes benefit the states and communities in which casinos operate by funding education initiatives, health insurance programs, infrastructure and economic development projects, responsible gaming programs, and more.”

According to the annual study, the increases in gaming revenue and taxes can be attributed in part to the continued expansion of legal sport betting, which 14 states legally offered in 2019. 

Americans wagered more than $13bn on sports with legal operators in 2019, resulting in legal US operators earning $908.9m in sports betting revenue. This is more than double the $430.7m revenue in 2018.

In 2019, the top 15 commercial casino markets by total gaming revenue maintained their previous rankings, but there was significant jostling for positions between the 16th and 20th largest markets.

The downtown Las Vegas market overtook Shreveport/Bossier City for the 16th largest market. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh/Meadowlands area surpassed New Orleans for the 19th spot on the list.

Putting the 2019 figures into the context of the ongoing pandemic, AGA President and CEO Bill Miller said: “Today’s economic realities were hard to imagine even a few short months ago before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Looking at the numbers, 2020 was shaping up to be a tremendous year. US commercial gaming revenue was up 10.6% in January and February 2020 over the same period in 2019.

“These early 2020 numbers were carryovers from a markedly successful 2019, the fifth consecutive year of growth for gaming. 

“The successes detailed in this year’s report are in stark contrast to where we are today. But it is also a great reminder of the significant role gaming plays in shoring up local and state economies and supporting the jobs and careers of nearly two million Americans. As mandated closures continue to let up, gaming will be pivotal to a quick and sustained recovery for our communities, our employees, and our customers.”