In an exclusive interview with Yogonet, American Gaming Association (AGA)'s Senior Vice President Casey Clark shares an overall year-end assessment of the gambling industry in the US. He further explains that the AGA is focused on convening the sports betting ecosystem to address concerns around advertising, align on proactive consumer education and streamline resources for problem gambling, as well as shares insights on the AGA’s future plans for 2022.
What would be your year-end assessment regarding the gambling industry's recovery in the US, and key developments in the different markets and verticals?
Our recovery in 2021 has been remarkable. Every vertical shattered records, leading to the best revenue results in our industry's history. This type of turnaround takes grit and perseverance — but it didn't happen by accident. It was a direct result of our industry's commitment to our customers and our consistent focus on providing a world-class experience.
Traditional gaming — slots and tables — recovery has been most significant, given it was hit hardest by COVID restrictions and closures. From January to October, gaming revenue totaled $34.22 billion, topping pre-pandemic levels by double-digits. Sports betting and iGaming also experienced tremendous growth, recording $6.14 billion in revenue through October. Eleven states launched sports betting in 2021 while two states launched iGaming.
Beyond the strength of our recovery, 2021 saw the real embrace of omnichannel strategies. We know that for online and retail customers alike, it's not an either/or proposition, it's both. Our customers — especially the new, younger adult demographic — want to engage with our products how, where, and when they want. Key to the growth of omnichannel is the continued adoption of digital payments, which are now available in at least nine states and many tribal properties.
Based on the feedback you've received from the companies that conform AGA, and AGA's work with regulators and local authorities, which do you anticipate will be the main issues driving the 2022 agenda? What do you think will be the new challenges for the gambling industry next year?
Sustained growth in gaming is dependent on regulatory flexibility, prioritizing responsibility, and stamping out the illegal market.
Whether it's digital payments or the latest slot machine equipment, gaming is constantly innovating to provide our customers with the latest technology and best experience possible. The pace of this innovation is accelerating faster than ever, so the industry needs regulations that allow for that type of growth.
As gaming expands and new entrants like sports leagues and media companies engage, it is important that we all work together to ensure responsibility is at the core of what we do. We know that responsibility isn't a box to check — it evolves with the industry. The AGA is focused on convening the sports betting ecosystem to address concerns around advertising, align on proactive consumer education and streamline resources for problem gambling.
While our industry's boom is providing more legal wagering options for consumers than ever before, the illegal gambling market is still pervasive and illegal gambling operators are unfortunately taking advantage of gaming's growth. Whether it's illegal sports betting or gray market machines, these illegal operators see an opportunity with the legal market's expansion and have used that to prey on unsuspecting consumers. Federal and state governments must remain focused on enforcing the law and rooting out these bad actors.
Where will AGA's focus be in 2022 and what new milestones do you anticipate for the US market? Which segments or sectors do you anticipate will see the most growth?
Along with advancing gaming's recovery, the AGA's is continuing to focus on building a sustainable market and uniting the industry to move gaming forward. Specifically, 2022 priorities center around advancing responsibility in sports betting, showcasing AGA members' progress and commitment on ESG issues, building industry champions, and advancing policy priorities in Washington.
It's hard to predict what growth looks like from here, given the record-setting pace of our recovery in 2021. Nobody could have imagined that after 2020 we would be headed for the first $50-billion-year in gaming's history. If the last two years have proved anything, it's that this industry has never been stronger, more united, or better-positioned to succeed and the AGA stands ready to guide the way.
Join us for a look back on 2021 and all that we achieved together.⤵️— American Gaming Association (@AmericanGaming) December 20, 2021