The U.S. commercial casino industry hit an all-time single-year high of $43.6 billion in gaming revenue during 2019, climbing 3.7%, according to the annual “State of the States” report from the American Gaming Association.
The report noted that 2019 marked the casino industry’s fifth straight annual increase and saw 21 of the 25 commercial gaming states experience year-over-year revenue jumps. Meanwhile, 14 states reported annual gaming revenue record totals.
The nation’s casino industry paid $10.2 billion in gaming taxes to state and local governments.
However, AGA CEO Bill Miller noted it may be a while before the industry reports similar numbers. Gaming in America was completely halted over an 11-day period at the end of March as states and tribal governments acted to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The American gaming industry has never faced a bigger challenge,” Miller wrote in the report, which was posted to the AGA’s website Wednesday. “Since then, the COVID-19 crisis that erupted around the world in early 2020 has had a tremendous impact on our industry, employees, and suppliers.”
Miller, who took over as the AGA’s CEO in January 2019, wrote that the gaming industry has long proven its resiliency.
“From the Great Recession and hurricanes to the tragedy of 1 October 2017, our industry has always rallied together with our communities and come out stronger on the other end,” Miller said. “I’m certain the same will be true over the coming months as gaming reopens for business.”
The gaming industry began a slow comeback before Memorial Day Weekend, when commercial gaming markets reopened in Louisiana and Mississippi. This week, casinos in Iowa and Missouri reopened, and on Thursday, Nevada – the nation’s largest commercial gaming market, which produced $12 billion in revenue in 2019 – reopens its casino economy.
“Importantly, we will be able to draw on 2019’s strong foundation as the industry rebuilds,” Miller said.
He highlighted Arkansas’ becoming the 25th state to launch commercial casinos on April 1, 2019, and the growth of sports betting, which has been legalized “at an unprecedented pace,” with 20 states and the District of Columbia all having approved laws to regulate the activity.
The 4.1% increase in direct gaming tax contributions didn’t account for billions of dollars in sales, income, and other taxes from gaming.
The AGA said the gaming revenue and tax increases were the result of the rapid expansion of sports betting, which was legally offered by 14 states in 2019.
Americans wagered more than $13 billion on sports with legal operators last year, resulting in sports betting revenue of $908.9 million to casinos and sportsbook operators, more than double the $430.7 million revenue earned by sports betting in 2018, which covered the seven months after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that legalized the activity.
According to the report, in 2019, the top 15 revenue-producing commercial casino markets maintained their previous rankings. The Las Vegas Strip produced $6.59 billion, followed by Atlantic City with $2.7 billion, the Chicagoland area – which includes parts of Illinois and northern Indiana – with $1.94 billion, and the Baltimore-Washington D.C corridor – which includes portions of Maryland and West Virginia – with $1.88 billion.
However, down in the 16th-20th positions, downtown Las Vegas overtook Shreveport/Bossier City in Louisiana for 16th, while the Pittsburgh/Meadow Lands area surpassed New Orleans for the 19th spot.
“By the time you read this, we will be moving into recovery from the comprehensive COVID-19 shutdowns, and working diligently, together, to get our industry, our communities, and our economy back on its feet,” Miller said.
Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.