AGA Report Shows Impact of COVID-19 on US Casino Gaming

The American Gaming Association (AGA) published its State of the States 2021 report recently, showing just how much of an impact the pandemic had on the US gaming industry last year.

According to the report, revenue for the US commercial casino gaming industry dropped over 31% year on year.

All 25 states that have physical commercial casino gaming options reported a drop in revenue compared to 2019.  The severity of the COVID-19 restrictions and the length of government mandated closures throughout the year impacted the size of the declines.

New Mexico, which closed its casinos in the middle of March 2020 and remained that way until the end of the year, reported the steepest decline out of all the states. South Dakota, on the other hand, only shut its casinos for 7 weeks and therefore saw less of an impact from the virus.

It was a whole different ball-game for sports betting in the US, however.

In 2020, Americans wagered $21.5 billion on sports (up from $13 billion in 2019). Revenue from legal sports betting operations grew nearly 70%.

“The gaming industry faced enormous challenges in 2020 – and we also saw significant changes, as player demographics shifted and emerging verticals saw strong growth,” said the president and CEO of the AGA, Bill Miller.

“From sharp revenue declines, to booming legal sports betting activity and overwhelming voter enthusiasm behind gaming, this year’s report reflects both the highs and lows of the past year.”

Highlights from the AGA report:

  • US casinos were closed for 27% of the year on average.
  • Commercial casinos lost 45,600 business days.
  • 19 states (and Washington, DC) have active legal sports betting markets.

Looking Ahead

The AGA said that the first quarter of 2021 looked extremely promising. The quarter tied for the highest-grossing quarterly total ever in the history of commercial gaming revenue in the US.

“The first quarter of 2021 clearly shows that consumer interest in gaming never waned, despite the challenges of 2020,” added Miller. “This momentum is a direct result of our industry’s ability to provide safe environments for our employees and guests to return to and is a strong indicator that our recovery is on the horizon.”

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