Commercial gaming revenue in the US was just $30 billion in 2020, down more than 31% year-over-year, according to the American Gaming Association’s Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker.
The AGA said 2020 saw the first market contraction for the US gaming industry since 2014 and the lowest gaming revenue total since 2003.
Q4 featured “some positive momentum,” the AGA said, as revenue was up 1.7% from Q3. However, the nearly $9.2 billion in revenue was down 17% from Q4 2019.
“COVID-19 devastated our business and the employees and communities across the country that rely on casino gaming’s success,” AGA president and CEO Bill Miller (pictured) said in a statement. “We have persevered by leading responsible reopening efforts, supporting our employees, and extending a hand to our communities. Still, these numbers show the economic realities of COVID-19 and underscore the importance of targeted federal relief and ramped-up vaccine distribution to accelerate gaming’s recovery in 2021.”
AGA research found commercial casinos lost 27% of normal operating days in 2020 due to mandated closures and, to a lesser degree, disruptions caused by hurricanes along the Gulf Coast. Commercial casinos were open (with capacity restrictions) for an estimated 124,882 days in 2020 out of 170,484 potential days.
The impact of COVID-19 on the casino industry extended beyond gaming revenue, the AGA continued. Live entertainment, tourism, and meetings and conventions — which make up more than half of casino resort revenue in tourist destinations such as the Las Vegas Strip — were shut down in 2020.
“Hospitality and travel have been among the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. I am encouraged by recent bipartisan momentum on Capitol Hill to support these industries, which are crucial to our nation’s full economic recovery,” added Miller.
There is hope for pent-up demand, as the AGA said one-in-three American adults plan to visit a casino in 2021, near the highest rate since the trade group began tracking last March. About 80% of future casino visitors agree the industry has done a good job at safely reopening.
Online gaming and sports betting helped the bottom line, as legal sports betting brought in an all-time high of $1.5 billion in revenue, up 69% year-over-year, while online gaming revenue nearly tripled to almost $1.6 billion.
The AGA said 30 commercial gaming markets were operational in 2020, while seven jurisdictions launched legal sports betting markets, and West Virginia launched a new online gaming market.