The U.S. Gaming industry’s comeback is ahead of schedule

Written By Andrew Boggs on May 14, 2021

The American gaming industry is in the middle of a remarkable comeback. As the world slowly marches towards a Covid-free reality, the American gaming industry is moving a lot quicker than everyone else.

The good news

According to a release from the American Gaming Association, the first quarter of 2021 was the highest-grossing quarter ever, matching Q3 2019. According to their Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker, the U.S. commercial gaming revenue topped $11 billion. For a country that is still reeling from the effects of the pandemic and still only partially opened, this is huge news. It shows that the industry has survived the long year of closures, and they are still able to thrive.

The details

To get into a little bit more detail, the revenue that was tracked in the first quarter of 2021 was a 4.1 percent increase over the industry’s pre-pandemic performance in Q1 2019 and is a 17.7 percent increase over Q1 2020, when the entire gaming industry shut down in March due to COVID-19.

According to the figures recorded by the AGA, the biggest month so far has been March, the highest-grossing revenue month in history for U.S. commercial gaming. This marks an interesting trend for the industry, it is recovering far quicker than many other industries in the US and is even improving on their previous records.  More than half of the U.S. states with commercial casinos recorded quarterly gaming revenue increases over Q1 2019. In fact, several of those states reported record-quarters.

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Comment from the AGA

AGA President and CEO Bill Miller spoke about their remarkable increase in revenue:

“Today’s report shows gaming’s comeback is ahead of schedule. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our industry has faced numerous challenges head-on while still reopening responsibly and providing a safe, exciting environment for customers.”

“The gaming industry is generating these impressive results with one hand tied behind our back as capacity and amenity restrictions remain across the country. This is a testament to gaming’s hard work to help ensure our team members’ safety and well-being, which enabled us to reopen safely. We applied those same standards to our customers, whose clear pent-up demand was met by our responsible industry.”

The future after Covid

Despite the major restrictions placed on the land-based casinos due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the traditional brick-and-mortar casino games managed to generate around 90 percent of the profits that were recorded in Q1 2019. This just goes to show the tenacity of the industry, despite the restrictions and reduced capacity, it looks like the pandemic has not killed the in-person gambling market.

On the other hand, the pandemic has certainly improved the sports betting and iGaming markets far more than any land-based gambling operation. While casinos may not be going anywhere for a while, they are certainly not the top dog anymore. Sports betting revenue for Q1 2021 saw a U.S. record of $961 million, up 270 percent over Q1 2020 and surpassing 2019’s full-year total of $909 million. When it comes to online gambling, iGaming generated $784 million nationwide in Q1 2021, more than tripling U.S. iGaming revenue from Q1 2020.

The industry is far from dead, but the pandemic has forced some major changes on the market that we will be feeling the repercussions of for years to come.

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Andrew Boggs

Andrew is a Northern Ireland based journalist with a background in esports and VR reporting. He grew up in County Down, Northern Ireland, and graduated from Ulster University with a Masters's degree in Journalism.

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