US Commercial Gambling Revenue Equals $11.13bn Record High in First Quarter

  • Total commercial gaming revenue matches the best quarter in history record set in Q3 2019
  • Brick-and-mortar revenue was still down from 2019 levels but online activity grew massively
  • Green shoots appear for commercial casinos as they recover from COVID closures, restrictions
  • Online will likely go from strength to strength as more states go live with digital casino, betting
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Q1 2021 total commercial gaming revenue in the US equaled record highs set in Q3 2019, reaching $11.13bn. [Image:]

Success for total gaming, sports betting revenue

Total commercial gaming revenue in the United States reached $11.13bn in the first quarter of 2021, equaling the previous record set in Q3 2019.

The American Gaming Association (AGA) published the country’s Q1 commercial gambling revenue figures on Tuesday, showing a number of interesting trends. It provided a snapshot of the results via Twitter:

Total revenue for the quarter was a 17.7% increase from the same period in 2020, which saw casinos dealing with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last March. It also showed a 4.1% rise from Q1 2019.

sports betting GGR rose 270.2% year-on-year to $961.1m

The AGA figures indicate a continuing significant growth for sports betting and iGaming, while brick-and-mortar facilities are still trying to get back to pre-pandemic levels. Slot machine gross gaming revenue (GGR) for the quarter totaled $6.7bn, a 4% drop from Q1 2019. Table game GGR shows an even bigger decrease from Q1 2019, falling 22.7% to $1.62bn. Meanwhile, sports betting GGR rose 270.2% year-on-year to $961.1m. iGaming GGR was $784.5m, a 238.9% year-on-year increase.

Light at the end of the tunnel

Green shoots are starting to appear for commercial casinos following a tough time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Casinos in some states hit all-time revenue records in Q1 2021, while over half of the states that have commercial casino facilities saw their revenue increase compared to Q1 2019. Casino game revenue at brick-and-mortar casinos was 90% of Q1 2019 totals.

Of the 464 commercial casinos in the country, 454 were open for business by the end of the first quarter of 2021. Many of these facilities are still dealing with capacity restrictions, which makes their performance even more impressive.

Only a few states currently allow 100% occupancy. For example, only certain casinos in Nevada have been able to return to full capacity in recent weeks.

gaming’s comeback is ahead of schedule”

Referring to the industry’s rebound, AGA CEO Bill Miller said: “Today’s report shows gaming’s comeback is ahead of schedule.” He spoke about how the industry faced the challenges of the pandemic head-on and is now reopening in a responsible manner, providing an exciting and safe environment for customers.

Ongoing online expansion

The increasing revenues for iGaming and sports betting were not overly surprising as more and more states go live with these operations and markets mature. The launch of online casinos and sports betting in Michigan in January 2021 provided a particular boost for Q1 figures.

And revenues are likely to continue rising. Goldman Sachs estimates that the online sports betting market could be worth almost $40bn by 2033. In the near term, numerous states have already legalized sports betting and are getting ready for launch, while legislation is close to getting passage in others.

Two markets in particular that will be getting plenty of attention will be Florida and New York. A gaming compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe will be under consideration during a special legislative session next week in Florida. The compact would allow legal retail and online sports betting in the third-most-populated US state. New York lawmakers are currently working on developing the framework for legal online sports betting in the country’s fourth-most-populated state.

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