The US gaming industry has never been better. Gross revenue in 2021 soared to new heighs.
The American Gaming Association (AGA), the industry’s national trade group, compiled revenue reports from the 33 states, plus DC, that have some form of legal commercial gambling. The AGA says total gaming income nearly hit $53 billion last year, which easily topped the industry’s previous all-time revenue record of $43.65 billion set in 2019.
“These results are nothing short of remarkable,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller.
Pent-up demand stemming from the pandemic-stricken 2020 resulted in unprecedented brick-and-mortar play. Of the total 2021 haul of $52.99 billion, retail slot machines accounted for $32.53 billion. Physical table games added $8.78 billion for a combined land-based win of $41.31 billion — or 78 percent of the 2021 money.
The slot revenue represents a 68 percent year-over-year gain, and a 10 percent increase in 2019. Table game income climbed 67 percent and 1.1 percent in 2020 and 2019.
The AGA tally does not include gaming revenue from tribal operations. But Miller says many Native American tribes have also revealed record gaming in 2021.
No, Casinos Did Not Win $53B
Some media outlets have been reporting on the AGA 2021 revenue report with erroneous headlines claiming that commercial casinos won $53 billion last year. That is far from accurate, as much of a casino’s online gaming revenue and sports betting income is shared with third-party operators that do not own or operate brick-and-mortar casinos.
Sports betting’s growth continued to accelerate in 2021, with seven additional states entering the legal market. GGR from sports betting, inclusive of retail and mobile wagering, totaled a record $4.29 billion.
Handle — or the amount bet — totaled $57.22 billion. That’s a surge of 165 percent from 2020, and also marks a new high. iGaming, which includes interactive slot machines and table games, kept $3.71 billion of internet gamblers’ bets.
The AGA says the industry’s diversification is appeasing demand.
“Today’s industry is effectively meeting customers how and where they want to engage — whether at a casino or through mobile gaming,” Miller said.
Of the nation’s 34 commercial gaming markets, the American Gaming Association says 23 set GGR records. All 34 reported increases from 2020, while 15 experienced better-than-2019 gaming.
Nevada, easily the richest gaming state in the US, reported wins north of $13.4 billion. The record number topped the state’s previous all-time mark of $12.85 billion, set in 2007.
The Las Vegas Strip maintained its dominance as the nation’s top gaming market. GGR there totaled $7 billion, also a new record.
Atlantic City remained the second-largest gaming market in the US. The New Jersey casino town reported a GGR of $2.55 billion. However, Atlantic City casinos, in terms of brick-and-mortar play, have not returned to 2019 pre-pandemic conditions. That’s when the nine properties won $2.68 billion.
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