The American Gaming Association released Tuesday its Gaming Industry Outlook, which shows CEOs in the sector remain positive about the industry’s current business situation. Additionally, many further expressed confidence about future conditions despite persistent concerns about today’s economic environment. However, the association says that, following a period of exceptionally strong growth, economic activity in the industry could ease moderately over the next six months.
The Gaming Industry Outlook is presented in partnership with Fitch Ratings. A majority of executives surveyed indicated that the present business situation is good (68%) or satisfactory (28%), and most (92%) expect these conditions to continue or improve over the next three to six months. More than one-third (38%) indicated they expect future conditions to be better, compared to only 8% that thought conditions would worsen.
AGA President and CEO Bill Miller analyzed these results and stated the industry “remains cautiously optimistic, and has weathered this volatile economy, because of resilient consumer demand.” He added that, looking ahead, future consumer confidence and spending “remain an outstanding question for our continued growth.”
However, despite strong annual revenue numbers to date, macroeconomic factors are tempering the future outlook for the gaming industry, AGA notes. Two-thirds of gaming CEOs named supply chain issues as a factor limiting operations (65%), followed by inflation and interest rate concerns (62%). Half of the executives also identified the uncertainty of the economic environment (50%) and shortage of labor (50%) as impediments to business growth.
The Gaming Industry Outlook includes two separate indices: the Current Conditions Index and the Future Conditions Index. The Current Conditions Index measures activity in the U.S. casino gaming industry during the most recent quarter. It is based on three components: gaming revenue, employment, and wages and salaries. Meanwhile, the Current Conditions Index reflects the composite growth of the three components, on an annualized basis. Index values above 100 indicate activity expanded during the quarter, while index values below 100 indicate a contraction.
The Current Conditions Index of 99.5 shows real gaming-related economic activity is relatively stable compared to the second quarter of 2022, when the industry set a new quarterly revenue record, further notes AGA. The Index indicates that gaming-related economic activity has grown at an annualized pace of approximately 4.9% over the last three quarters, "reflecting real underlying growth, controlled for the effects of inflation."
As for the Future Conditions Index, it currently stands at 95.3, indicating that real gaming-related economic activity is expected to decrease moderately over the next six months at a 4.7 percent annualized rate. While the growth expectations of the Gaming Executive Panel - which consists of senior-level AGA member executives selected to represent the breadth of the casino gaming sector- remain positive, the Future Conditions Index is dampened by the current Oxford Economic outlook, which anticipates a mild recession in the first half of 2023, notes the association.
Other findings include that about three in four CEOs surveyed (72%) expect the pace of wage and benefit growth to continue to increase over the next three to six months, although there was a slowdown in expectations around the pace of hiring compared to earlier this year. Strong inflation in the third quarter contributed to a weaker measure of economic activity as gaming revenue and employee wages are adjusted for inflation in the Current Conditions Index.
Gaming CEO Growth expectations remain positive but have softened relative to six months ago, according to the Gaming Executive Panel—a major input in the Future Conditions Index. In aggregate, across a set of outlook questions, the share of positive responses on measures such as future business conditions outweighed negative responses by 24.7% points, down from 40.3% points in Q1.
For gaming operators, future customer activity is a major question mark with expectations evenly split between expansion and contraction. Among gaming suppliers, half expect the sales of both new and replacement units to increase over the next two quarters, while none expected a decrease in sales.
The strong growth over the past two years has positioned the industry well despite future uncertainty, highlights AGA. While respondents noted a significant deterioration in the credit environment, nearly half expected balance sheet health to improve over the next six months.