In 2015, the United States gaming industry generated $71.1 billion, growing at an annual rate of 3.1 percent. For purposes of this annual analysis, the United States gaming industry includes commercial, tribal, iGaming and limited stakes gaming (gaming machines offered in taverns, restaurants and travel plazas).
The growth seen in 2015 marked the sixth consecutive year of growth for the overall industry and the first time the industry surpassed $70 billion in total gaming revenue. Most importantly, the growth was largely attributed to organic growth from existing casinos, which is a favorable change for the industry.
Since 2007, the industry has grown at an annualized rate of 0.9 percent, expanding by $5 billion from the pre-recession revenues of $66.1 billion to the $71.1 billion recorded in 2015. During this same period of time, existing casinos have endured an increase in competition from gaming expansion activities throughout the nation. The overall industry has seen more than 90 new casino openings, the emergence of a $1 billion limited stakes gaming market within Illinois, and the legalization of online gaming.
The U.S. commercial gaming industry generated a record $38.3 billion in 2015, growing by 2.3 percent. The segment includes 580 casinos across 24 states. While commercial gaming set a new gaming revenues record in 2015, the most important fact is 2015 marks the first year since the Great Recession that the majority of existing casinos saw year-over-year increases in gaming revenues.
Of the individual casinos monitored by RubinBrown, there were 140 that operated for a full 12 months in both 2014 and 2015. Of these 140 casinos, 60.7 percent saw revenues increase in 2015. The fact that existing casinos are seeing an increase in gaming activity is a welcome change to the industry which has continually faced increasing competition and market cannibalization from gaming expansion activities.
In 2007, the commercial gaming industry generated $37.4 billion from 563 casinos operating across 20 states. In 2015, those same 20 states had three fewer casinos in operation and generated $35.1 billion, a decline of 6.1 percent. Since 2007, the overall commercial gaming segment has benefited from the following areas of growth:
• Top line gaming revenue growth of $900 million or 2.4 percent;
• Addition of 20 casinos across four new gaming jurisdictions—Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts and Ohio—which generated gaming revenue of $3.2 billion in 2015; and
• Expanded table game offerings in five states which previously only permitted gaming machines.
In 2015 the tribal gaming industry continued its trend of growth and expansion. The industry segment represents approximately 460 casinos, operated by 240 tribes that collectively generate an estimated $29.3 billion in gaming revenues.
The industry segment’s overall growth has remained steady throughout the Great Recession and subsequent recovery, with the industry seeing a compounded annual growth rate of 1.8 percent since 2007. During this time, the industry has seen the opening of more than 70 casinos and overall tribal gaming revenues increase by $3.2 billion.
While the industry continues to produce year-over-year growth, the growth has not been uniform in tribal gaming. Specifically, the National Indian Gaming Commission’s (NIGC’s) Sacramento and Phoenix regions continue to operate below the pre-recession revenue levels. In 2007, the two regions generated $10.7 billion from 104 casinos. By 2015, the number of gaming operations expanded to over 115 casinos; however, the estimated revenue of $10.3 billion remained below the peak established in 2007.
Conversely, the Oklahoma gaming market has continued to see rapid growth and expansion. In 2007, the NIGC’s Tulsa and Oklahoma City regions generated $2.6 billion from 102 casinos. Since then, the Oklahoma gaming market has welcomed more than 30 new casinos, while generating a $1.6 billion increase in annual revenues.
The iGaming industry closed its second full year of gaming operations in 2015. The industry segment generated $0.2 billion ($160.7 million) in 2015, growing at a rate of 19.3 percent. Entering 2016, the iGaming segment continues to garner the attention of numerous state legislatures as a method for increased tax revenue. However, the inability to establish uniform regulations on the national stage has stymied the prospects for rapid growth.
While the potential for national growth continues to be debated nationally, the existing iGaming states of Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada continue to refine their regulations and look for ways to improve liquidity across their respective jurisdictions. Specifically, in March 2015, Delaware and Nevada formally launched its online poker network which allows players to compete across state lines.
LIMITED STAKES GAMING
The limited stakes gaming industry segment, representing gaming machines offered at taverns, restaurants and truck stops, generated $3.3 billion in 2015. Of the three industry segments that operated prior to the Great Recession, limited stakes gaming has seen the largest increase in revenues. In 2007, the industry segment included five states (excluding Nevada’s route operators), that generated $2.6 billion. By 2015, the industry segment had expanded into its sixth state, Illinois, and seen revenues growth by 28.1 percent to $3.3 billion.
While the industry has seen the largest rise in gaming revenues, the growth has solely been attributed to the Illinois market expansion. In 2015, the Illinois limited stakes gaming market generated $0.9 billion ($913.6 million) in gaming revenues. Meanwhile, each the five states (Louisiana, Montana, Oregon, South Dakota and West Virginia) that had limited stakes operations in 2007, have seen overall revenue declines. The five states collectively generated $2.4 billion in 2015, down 7.5 percent from 2007. While the existing states are still below pre-recession revenue levels, the states resumed a growth trend in 2015, when they collectively saw revenues increase compared to 2014.
With 2015 completed, the industry is focused on continuing the growth trends into 2016. The organic growth witnessed in 2015 is expected to continue as consumer prices remain low; however, continued economic certainty could bring a slow-down in job creation and growth. Beyond organic growth, the industry is also looking forward to continued expansion across all four industry segments. Specific to the commercial gaming market, new casino developments along the Las Vegas Strip, in New York State, Massachusetts and Maryland will continue to bring overall growth to the industry.