The U.S. commercial casino industry set a record for revenue in 2019 as the nation’s 400-plus casinos combined to earn $43.6 billion, according to a report from the American Gaming Association. Sports betting was an important component of this growth.
The 2019 record is certain to stand for at least one year, with every commercial casino in America having closed for several weeks in early 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The 2019 revenue was 3.7% higher than in 2018, the AGA said.
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Half the states in the nation had commercial casinos in 2019. Of those 25 states, 21 saw revenue numbers increase in a year-over-year comparison, according to the AGA’s State of the States report that was released Wednesday.
The report said 2019 was the fifth consecutive year of revenue growth.
Also, taxes paid out to state and local governments from casino revenue surpassed eight figures for the first time in 2019. In all, $10.2 billion was paid out to governments from casino revenue — and that does not even account for billions more in sales, income and other taxes related to gaming.
The AGA said Americans wagered nearly $13 billion on legal sports betting in 2019 and that legal U.S. operators banked $908.9 million in sports betting revenue, more than double the 2018 figure of $430.7 million. In states with a robust mobile sports betting market, more than 80% of sports betting handle has come via mobile. And in the first two months in 2020, even before COVID-19 concerns shut down physical casinos, states such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey were pulling in about 90% of their sports betting handle in the online sector.
The state with the largest casino revenue gain in 2019 was Massachusetts, with an increase of 163.13%. This was due to the success of the Encore Boston Harbor casino, which opened in the summer. In July 2019, its first full month of operation, Encore Boston Harbor already had 60% of the state’s cumulative gross casino revenue.
One section of the AGA State of the States report said: “State gaming revenue and tax totals do include internet gaming operations managed by commercial casinos or affiliated companies in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Nevada.”
Online poker and other casino gaming revenue streams have been steady and in fact have increased with brick-and-mortar casinos being closed for several weeks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Many casinos around the country have started reopening — including many in Las Vegas on Thursday — but not everywhere.
New Jersey, for instance, is unlikely to reopen its Atlantic City casinos until early July. The AGA’s research indicates that Atlantic City was the second-biggest market in the country for casino revenue at $2.7 billion combined, trailing only the Las Vegas Strip ($6.59 billion).
The report on commercial casinos does not, of course, include data from the nation’s 500-plus tribal casinos. The latest numbers available from the National Indian Gaming Commission indicated that the tribal sector of the casino industry accounted for $33.7 billion of revenue in 2018.