$43.68B so far

US commercial gaming revenue in 2021 already sets all-time annual record, AGA expects $50B

2021-12-09
United States
Reading time 2:46 min

The American Gaming Association (AGA) on Tuesday announced that 2021 has already passed 2019 as the highest-grossing commercial gaming revenue year of all time in the US, even without all of November numbers in and nothing yet from December.

AGA said that with only three states reporting November revenue so far, 2021 has already reached $43.68 billion in commercial gaming revenue from the nation’s 987 commercial casinos, and will smash 2019’s record of $43.65 billion. Several states reported their November revenue figures in the last week. 

Nevada is one of the states expected to have strong results, but it won’t report November figures until the end of this month, with December revenue to be reported at the end of January. In October, the state marked a streak of eight months straight of $1 billion or more in house winnings, matching an all-time record for the state.

“When full-year numbers are in, we expect commercial gaming revenue to come in around $50 billion — a remarkable turnaround for our industry that was devastated by COVID-19,” said AGA Senior Vice President Casey Clark, as reported by Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Our historic recovery is a testament to gaming’s world-class hospitality and entertainment experiences.”

Nationwide commercial gaming revenue has reached a new quarterly record of $13.89 billion in Q3, 2021, according to AGA’s Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker, following a record second quarter. Through October, slot machines and table games generated a combined $34.22 billion in revenue, with $27 billion coming from slots. Sports betting generated $3.16 billion in revenue through October — up 359% over the same period in 2019. 

The AGA said last month that it was relatively certain 2021 would be a banner year for casinos. “Two straight quarters of record gaming revenue is an incredible accomplishment in any context, let alone after the most challenging year in industry history,” AGA President and CEO Bill Miller said after third-quarter results were announced in November. “Our recovery is not a flash in the pan, but rather a sustained result of our leadership in responsible reopening, world-class entertainment offerings and widespread favorability.”

Ten out of 25 states with commercial casinos saw quarterly revenue records in July, August and September, including the four highest-grossing commercial gaming states in 2019: Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

On the Strip, gaming revenue also hit an all-time high of $2.06 billion. The record was driven, in part, by the steady return of tourism. 9.2 million people visited Las Vegas in the quarter, a nearly 10% increase over the second quarter and the highest quarterly visitation level since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020.

“With brick-and-mortar gaming setting records, the expansion into new verticals, and domestic and international tourism recovering, the industry is in a strong position for a full recovery,” Miller said. “I’m confident that the return of meetings, conventions and international travel will further accelerate gaming’s recovery in 2022.”

Brendan Bussmann, director of government affairs for Las Vegas-based Global Market Advisors, told Las Vegas Review-Journal that several things have contributed to the banner year. “There are a number of factors that have contributed to this effort, including pent-up demand from the government mandated shutdowns but also some of the additional money that has been recirculated into the economy from either stimulus or savings during the Great Shutdown,” he said. “The challenge ahead is to maintain those numbers in some cautionary headwinds of inflation, fuel costs and tightening on discretionary income.”

An AGA panel of 24 casino company CEOs surveyed last month found that half of them plan to invest capital in hotel and food and beverage amenities, while 43 percent say they’ll upgrade slot machines on casino floors. Three-quarters of gaming equipment executives say they expect increased sales of gaming units for their floors in 2022.

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