The US commercial gaming achieved its highest-grossing year ever in 2021 according to the American Gaming Association (AGA). Details of the record-breaking year were published in its latest Commercial Revenue Tracker, where it was reported that the industry reached $53bn in revenue.
Coinciding with the past year’s results, President and CEO Bill Miller noted in AGA’s State of the Industry webinar that the association aims to continue being a ‘leading advocate’ for US gaming as it expands across the country.
2021’s total revenue of $53bn broke the previous industry record set in 2019 of $43.65bn by more than 21%. The year also ended on a high note, setting an all-time quarterly revenue record in Q4 2021 of $14.31bn, beating the previous best of $13.93bn set in Q3 2021.
In a statement, Miller commented: “These results are nothing short of remarkable. The success of 2021 reflects our commitment to health and safety and how Americans have welcomed gaming’s expansion across the country.
“Today’s industry is effectively meeting customers how and where they want to engage—whether at a casino or through mobile gaming.”
Across the US in 2021, 33 states and the District of Columbia featured operational commercial gaming markets, including casino gaming, sports betting, and igaming. Four new markets opened during the year – Arizona, Connecticut, Virginia, and Wyoming.
Of the 34 jurisdictions, 23 set individual records for full-year commercial gaming revenue, while on a national level, every commercial gaming vertical registered a new annual revenue record.
Leading the industry’s recovery was traditional brick-and-mortar gaming, as 2021’s combined slot and table gaming revenue totaled $44.94bn, a 6.6% improvement on 2019’s previous record.
Sports betting generated a handle of $57.22bn and $4.29bn in revenue, a 165% and 177% growth year-over-year respectively. A busy fall sports calendar helped sportsbooks achieve their highest-ever grossing quarter, with Q4 betting revenue hitting $1.51bn, up 73.2% YoY and a 57.2% improvement on the previous record (Q1 2021).
Established markets such as Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania led the way in producing the all-time high, while the launch of seven new commercial sports betting markets – Arizona, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, South Dakota, Virginia, and Wyoming – helped boost results.
The markets of Connecticut and Michigan opened their doors to igaming in 2021, contributing to a sector record of $3.71bn in revenue. Q4 also saw record highs in the vertical, with revenue reaching $1.09bn, jumping 124.5% YoY.
The combined sports betting and igaming revenue for the year totaled $8bn, up 158% YoY, accounting for a record 15.1% of annual industry gaming revenue (2020: 10.3% with 19 sports betting and four igaming markets / 2019: 3.3% with 13 sports betting and three igaming markets).
However, despite the record-setting year, Miller noted that gaming’s full recovery is “still reliant on the full return of travel and large events, which requires a safe health environment and open economy”. He remains “optimistic”, however, that continued growth will be seen throughout 2022.
Looking more at the year ahead, and speaking during AGA’s State of the Industry webinar, the CEO noted that gaming has already seen legal mobile sports betting market expansions in New York and Louisiana. He added that sports betting will go live soon in Ohio and Nebraska and Maryland’s mobile sports betting launch is in the works too.
Miller also advised that in 2022, seven US states are considering sports betting legislation, four states are considering igaming, and brick and mortar properties will open for the first time in Virginia and Nebraska.
As expansion continues across the US, he also highlighted that the association aims to help gaming grow by being an ‘industry champion’ and a ‘leading advocate’ for the industry.
Miller communicated AGA’s four core values for 2022: Driving responsibility in sports betting; Shutting down illegal gambling; Advancing gaming’s leadership on ESG issues; Pushing key priorities and building champions in Washington DC.
Notably, on the topic of advancing gaming’s leadership on ESG issues, the AGA CEO stated that the association will be publishing an audit report in the spring which will cover how the industry is doing in the areas of advancing sustainability, strengthening diversity and inclusion, investing in communities, and responsible leadership.
Miller said this report will help the industry understand its strengths and recognize where it needs improvement, and it will be used “as a foundation to drive hard discussions with industry leaders and establish a baseline from which we can continue to improve gaming’s positive impact”.
He concluded: “2022 will be another great year for gaming. Topping 2021’s historic growth won’t be easy, but by uniting as an industry, we can build on our momentum and seize the opportunities in front of us and take on any new challenges that may emerge.”