Before Covid Bust, Sports Betting Brought Casinos a Banner Year

The screen of a slot machine at Resorts casino in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

(CN) — Commercial gaming revenue shot up to $43.6 billion last year for the fifth year in a row, the American Gaming Association reported Wednesday, touting new sports-gambling permissions sweeping the country as having doubled earnings for operators in that sector.

Compared with 2018, according to the trade group’s report, casino revenues were up 3.7%. Meanwhile sports betting operations, which 14 states offered last year after a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision cleared the way, brought in earnings of nearly $908.9 million from the more than $13 billion that was wagered.

Commercial gaming is legal in 25 states, and 21 of these had a revenue increase. Of these, according to Thursday’s report, 14 states set casino revenue records: Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Rhode Island.

No. 1 on that list, with an eye-popping 163% revenue increase, was Massachusetts, thanks to the Bay State opening its second casino-resort just outside of Boston last June. 

Nevada’s gaming revenue was only up 1% yet “remained by far the largest gaming state by casino gaming revenue in 2019, a year that saw statewide annual gaming revenue surpass $12 billion for the first time since 2007,” according to the report. With the 219 casinos statewide, more than half of Nevada’s gaming revenue comes the Las Vegas Strip.

New Jersey ranked second in the top five gaming markets, bringing in $3.5 billion thanks to a 19.5% revenue increase, more than it had in a decade. 

The industry set some of its own records, including paying over $10 billion in gambling taxes. Thursday’s report notes that this is the first time that number surpassed $10 million. Pennsylvania paid more taxes once again than any of the other states, generating $1.5 billion in gaming taxes. 

The AGA says the gaming taxes are enough to pay annual education costs for over 800,000 elementary and secondary school students. It adds that the gaming taxes go toward health insurance programs, infrastructure, and economic development projects and responsible gaming programs.

Dealers in masks wait for customers Wednesday before the reopening of the D Las Vegas hotel and casino in Nevada. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Bill Miller, CEO of the American Gaming Association, said that the numbers bode well for casinos and gamblers alike. 

“At the end of 2019, Americans never had a higher opinion of our industry and nearly half said they planned to visit a casino over the next year,” Miller said in a statement. “Consumers saw gaming as providing innovative, cutting-edge entertainment while at the same time providing economic and social benefits to local communities.” 

Americans do appear to have a good opinion of the industry, with 105 million visiting casinos last year and 86% considering gaming to be a “fully acceptable” form of entertainment, according to the report. 

The report comes as many casinos begin to emerge from a near three-month shutdown due to the outbreak of Covid-19.  

Miller acknowledges the setback the pandemic may have on the streak of revenue increase for the industry. 

“Within a span of 11 days, the commercial casino industry went from continued record-breaking growth to complete shutdown,” said Miller. “The American gaming industry has never faced a bigger challenge 

This report does not look at tribal casinos, as they operate under different reporting requirements, but adds that tribal casinos reached $33.7 billion in 2018, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission. There are 524 tribal casinos across 29 states.

Legal sports betting has not yet reached all 50 states, with only 20 states and the District of Columbia having passed legislation as of mid-2020.

%d bloggers like this: