Bill Miller: AGA report offers silver linings for US gaming recovery

Image source: American Gaming Association

American Gaming Association (AGA) President Bill Miller has offered his personal view of the findings contained in the publication yesterday of the trade body’s State of the States 2021: The AGA Survey of the Commercial Casino Industry.

The report, he said, paints what is already known to be a bleak revenue picture for 2020, with commercial gaming revenue down 31% from 2019, in large part due to pandemic-related casino closures and restrictions on capacity and amenities. 

In all, casinos nationwide lost 27% of business days in 2020, leading to all 25 states with commercial casinos posting year-over-year revenue declines.  

While the statistics represent a depressing view of the past year, Miller was also optimistic, saying: “This year’s report also presents silver linings which will play important roles in our continued recovery. Player demographics shifted and emerging verticals like sports betting and igaming reported soaring revenue in 2020 – up 69 and 199% year-over-year – and promise to continue to generate vital revenue for our industry.”

As bad as those figures were, Miller argued that they could have been worse. “While gaming revenue fell, it’s remarkable it only dropped as much as it did,” he said. “That’s a testament to our ability to reopen quickly and safely, while still providing a first-class entertainment experience that customers were eager to return to.

“It’s also a byproduct of Americans’ growing acceptance of gaming, as five new sports betting markets and one new igaming market opened in 2020.”

He concluded: “Our industry met the challenge of the last year head-on. Now, gaming is regaining momentum, with Q1 2021 commercial gaming revenue matching pre-pandemic highs. I hope this report is a valuable resource on the commercial gaming landscape as we make significant headway on our recovery. I’m already optimistic that next year’s report will present a powerful story of gaming’s resurgence.”