The American Gaming Association (AGA) has published its State of the States 2021: The AGA Survey of the Commercial Casino Industry, citing the COVID-19 pandemic’s significant impact on the gaming industry in 2020, causing a 31% drop in commercial gaming revenue and a significant shakeup in the top 20 casino markets.
According to the report, while the pandemic overwhelmed traditional gaming sectors the industry experienced monumental growth in emerging verticals like sports betting and igaming.
It found that 2020 marked the industry’s lowest total annual revenue since 2003, with consumer spending on commercial gaming falling to $29.98bn, down 31% from 2019. Moreover, all 25 states with physical commercial casino gaming reported lower revenue than in 2019.
More positively, Americans legally wagered $21.5bn on sports, compared to $13bn in 2019 while revenue from legal sports betting operations increased 69% to $1.5bn.
The Baltimore-Washington, DC gaming market is now the third largest in the country, said the report, surpassing Chicagoland and trailing only the Las Vegas Strip and Atlantic City. The Gulf Coast, St Louis and Shreveport/Bossier City markets all jumped several spots in the top 20 rankings.
AGA President and CEO Bill Miller commented on the findings, saying: “The gaming industry faced enormous challenges in 2020 – and we also saw significant changes, as player demographics shifted and emerging verticals saw strong growth.
“From sharp revenue declines, to booming legal sports betting activity and overwhelming voter enthusiasm behind gaming, this year’s report reflects both the highs and lows of the past year.”
During the first two months of 2020, US commercial gaming revenue was up 11.4$ compared to the same time in 2019. However, due to mandated casino closures and capacity restrictions, revenue fell significantly for the remaining 10 months of the year, beginning in March when all US casinos shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Collectively, America’s commercial casinos lost more than 45,600 business days due to pandemic-related closures last year, meaning they were closed for approximately 27% of the year on average.
By the end of the year, 19 states plus the District of Columbia had active legal sports betting markets. Despite land-based casino closures and the suspension of major sporting events in the spring, sports betting saw significant growth, with Americans legally wagering more than $21.5bn on sports last year.
In a survey conducted in April 2020, AGA member company executives, including commercial and tribal operator and supplier CEOs and CFOs, estimated a revenue decline of slightly more than 40% in 2020 and a timetable for recovery of up to two years.
However, Q1 2021’s commercial gaming revenue numbers tied for the highest-grossing quarterly total ever, suggesting a quicker recovery than anticipated.
“The first quarter of 2021 clearly shows that consumer interest in gaming never waned, despite the challenges of 2020,” added Miller. “This momentum is a direct result of our industry’s ability to provide safe environments for our employees and guests to return to and is a strong indicator that our recovery is on the horizon.”