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Record Breaking Year for US Casinos

2021 was a record breaking year for US casinos, as the industry won $53 billion over the course of the year. The figures, released by the American Gaming Association (AGA), showed that in-person gambling was still the most popular source of revenue for the gaming industry, despite the continued growth of both sports betting and online casinos.

Casino industry

Bouncing back

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, 2020 was a big down year for casinos, but the 2021 bounce back saw the industry beat its previous recorded year (2019) by a staggering 21%. 33 states, plus Washington DC, have legalized gambling and almost 70% of those states saw record wins during 2021.

AGA President Bill Miller was suitably impressed by the results, especially in light of the restrictions caused by the pandemic. “The success of 2021 reflects our commitment to health and safety, and how Americans have welcomed the gaming expansion across the country. Today’s industry is effectively meeting customers how and where they want to engage, whether at a casino or through mobile gaming.”

Part of the increase can be attributed to seven states launching commercial sports betting markets during the year. Maryland, South Dakota, Virginia, Wyoming, Arizona, Connecticut and Louisiana were the states in question and they have all enjoyed a successful launch. In addition, both Michigan and Connecticut successfully launched online sports betting in 2021.

Breaking down the numbers

A key takeaway from the figures was that despite some Covid restrictions being in place, customers were still more than happy to return to in-person casino play. Over $44 billion was won via gamblers at physical casinos, a rise of 6.6% on 2019 figures.

There was also a huge increase in sports betting activity, with over $57 billion being taken in legal wagers over the course of the year. Unsurprisingly, given the relative lack of sporting events taking place in 2020, this represented a year-on-year rise of 165%. After taking winning bets and expenses were subtracted that left a net revenue of $4.3 billion, again a huge rise on 2020’s figure.

In total, sports betting and internet gambling totaled $8 billion, a rise of 158% from 2020. This means that sports betting and internet gambling now account for over 15% of total gambling revenue.

Despite the impressive numbers, there was still a word of caution from Miller, who noted that travel restrictions were still having an adverse impact on the industry, as was the reluctance of some older players to return to casinos. “Gaming’s total recovery is still reliant on the full return of travel and large events, which requires a safe and healthy environment, and an open economy,” said Miller, who noted that these issues had been especially difficult for destinations such as Las Vegas, that really considerably on the tourist industry.

It is worth noting that the figures released do not include tribal casinos, although Miller is of the impression that these casinos also recorded record numbers in 2021.

Looking to the future

With Coronavirus restrictions likely to be almost completely removed in 2022, it looks like being another record breaking year for the industry as more and more players return to casinos and racetracks. Mobile sports betting has gone live in both New York and Louisiana, with the former already taking over $2 billion in wagers, making it the number one state in the nation for sports betting.

Nebraska and Ohio are expected to launch online sports betting in 2022, with Nebraska also opening a selection of racetrack casinos and Virginia launching a range of physical casinos. Miller also thinks an online launch in Maryland could be happening relatively soon, as well as up to seven additional states applying to legalize sports betting.

With so much going on in the industry and so many new states entering the market, the gaming industry appears to be going from strength to strength.

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