The American Gaming Association, USA’s gaming industry trade body has published a new report outlining the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the nationwide commercial gaming revenue. Per AGA’s Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker, the U.S. commercial gaming industry won revenue worth $30.0 billion for the 2020 calendar year.
The revenue in question was 31% less than what the nation’s commercial gaming sector collected, marking it the very first market contraction in 6 years – 2014 was the last time that the USA’s gaming industry experienced a year-over-year decline. Moreover, the $30.0 billion that was collected in 2020 is the lowest annual haul that the commercial gaming sector has seen in 17 years.
A Pandemic Shockwave for Commercial Gaming
As you might have already guessed, the raging COVID-19 crisis was the reason behind the revenue decline in 2020. Per AGA’s latest report, commercial casinos across the country ended up losing 27% of their standard operating days because of the forced shutdowns that were imposed to control the spread of the highly infectious virus.
Besides the pandemic-induced shutdowns, hurricanes along the country’s Gulf Coast region also led to a notable disruption to commercial casino operations in the area, though the impact wasn’t as devastating as that of COVID-19.
Overall, for the 2020 calendar year, commercial casinos were open for business for about 124,882 days, as opposed to the 170,484 days they should have been opened were it not for the mandatory closures. Mind you, even when the casinos resumed operations, they did so at limited capacities of between 25% and 50% of their normal occupancy rates.
After the publication of the report, Bill Miller, the President, and CEO of AGA said in part;
“COVID-19 devastated our business and the employees and communities across the country that rely on casino gaming’s success. 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.”
Sports Betting and iGaming Keep the Industry Afloat
As bad as things were in 2020, the rapid growth of sports betting and iGaming across the USA gave the industry a much-needed shot in the arm. Thanks to the expansion of the number of legal sports betting states, the vertical brought in a record $1.5 billion revenue, showing a 68.9% growth compared to 2019’s $908.9 million. Similarly, iGaming also showed impressive growth after the revenue tripled year-over-year to bring in total revenue of about $1.6 billion.
By the end of the year, there were a total of 30 commercial gaming markets in operation across the country, with sports betting launched in 7 new jurisdiction and one new iGaming market. Furthermore, five more states have already legalized sports betting but the activity hasn’t yet gone live, and a total of 15 states have an active or pre-filed sports betting legislation in 2021.
While 2020’sperformance was poor, the AGA is still optimistic about 2021 as COVID-19 vaccinations rollout continues. Better yet, Americans are increasingly embracing legal markets as states continue to legalize gambling.