The American Gaming Association’s (AGA) Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker features monthly, quarterly, and year-to-date gross gaming revenue (GGR) at a state and national level, broken down by individual gaming verticals.
Fourth Quarter & Calendar Year Commercial Gaming Revenue
COVID-19 Drives 2020 Gaming Revenue to Lowest Level in 17 Years
U.S. commercial casino gaming revenue (GGR) totaled nearly $9.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020. This is down 17 percent compared to the same three-month period in 2019, but up slightly (+1.7%) from the third quarter.
For the full year, the U.S. commercial casino industry reported annual gaming revenue of $30.0 billion, marking the first year-over-year market contraction since 2014. Pandemic-driven declines resulted in the lowest revenue level since 2003 when the commercial industry generated $28.7 billion from legal gaming in 11 states, compared to nearly three times as many jurisdictions in 2020.
The devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the gaming industry, with GGR contracting by nearly one-third (31.3%) year-over-year, overshadows previous slumps. During the Great Recession, gaming revenue decreased by a comparatively mild 8.4 percent during the span of two years (2007-2009).
Despite the dramatic overall revenue decline in 2020, prior to the pandemic, the gaming industry was primed for another record year. In January and February, revenue grew 11.4 percent over the same period in 2019.
In 2020, all 24 commercial gaming states for which full year-over-year comparisons are available saw revenue contract from 2019. The largest annual drops came in New Mexico (-79%), Michigan (-56%), New York (-57%), and Rhode Island (-51%), reflecting later than average reopenings of state casinos (MI and NY), secondary reclosures (RI), and closures that persisted from the initial March-shuttering (NM).
Commercial casinos lost 27 percent of normal operating days (45,602 total) throughout 2020 as a result of mandated COVID-19 closures and hurricanes along the Gulf Coast. In a normal 2020 with 366 days, commercial casinos would have been expected to be open for a total of 170,484 business days, compared to 124,882 in actuality. Even after they began to reopen, many, if not all, casinos were still operating at reduced capacity or with limited other amenities available.
The vast majority of commercial casinos were open in some capacity in the fourth quarter of 2020. Only seven percent of normal operating days were lost in the last quarter of the year, despite a second round of statewide shutdowns in Michigan (Nov. 18), Illinois (Nov. 20), Pennsylvania (Dec. 12), and Rhode Island (Nov. 29). This can be compared to 10 percent of normal operating days that were lost in Q3, 75 percent in Q2, and 15 percent in Q1.
By the end of the year, 37 commercial casinos, or eight percent of the 469 total, remained shuttered in Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, and South Dakota.
Sports Betting and iGaming Soar
The reclosure of several large casino markets toward the end of 2020 resulted in revenue from legacy gaming (i.e. slot and table games) decreasing in Q4 by more than five percent from the third quarter. For the full year, commercial casino revenue from legacy gaming, dropped by more than a third (36%) compared to 2019.
That overall gaming revenue still improved by 1.7 percent between Q3 and Q4 is again testament to the record-breaking year that sports betting and iGaming experienced in 2020. In the last three months of the year, sports betting generated $860.4 million in revenue, up 146 percent from the third quarter, while iGaming revenue reached $484.3 million, an increase of 11 percent from Q3.
Year-over-year gains were similarly impressive, as launches of sports betting across seven jurisdictions and the continuing maturation of existing markets boosted national sports betting by 69 percent year-over-year to more than $1.5 billion in revenue. New markets and consumer demand also grew the annual U.S. handle by 65 percent to $21.5 billion despite widespread sportsbook shutdowns and an abbreviated calendar of major sporting events.
iGaming generated nearly $1.6 billion in revenue across the four markets that were operational in 2020 (excluding Nevada online poker), or triple (199%) the amount produced in 2019.
With COVID-19 closures and operating restrictions depressing legacy gaming for the greater part of 2020, sports betting and iGaming accounted for a record share of the industry revenue picture, particularly in some of the nation’s largest gaming markets. In 2020, combined revenue from sports betting and iGaming made up more than 10 percent of annual GGR, compared to three percent in 2019.
About the Report
AGA’s Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker provides state-by-state and cumulative insight into the U.S. commercial gaming industry’s financial performance based on state revenue reports. This issue highlights fourth quarter results, ending December 31, 2020, and end-of-year comparisons.
State of the States 2020
The definitive study of the U.S. commerical gaming industry in 2019, providing key financial performance data and other metrics for the 25 states with commercial gaming operations.