Coming back to work after the holidays is always a drag. In many places winter has taken hold with no end in sight, it gets dark before you leave the office and a new business year with its myriads of challenges is just beginning. No wonder there is such a thing as seasonal dysfunction disorder.

Let’s see if I can shine some much needed positive light on the gloom, not hard to do since the gaming industry has a lot to crow about going into 2019. Here are some soul-reviving nuggets to chew on as you de-ice the car and dream of Caribbean vacations and warmer weather:

  • The continuing ascent of sports wagering: Considering sports wagering for most of the nation was only legalized this past spring, this segment of the gaming market has grown by leaps and bounds and shows no signs of letting up. Sports wagering initiatives have already passed in 10 states with more coming online every month—Eilers & Krejcik Gaming predicts the practice could be legal in 32 states by the end of 2023, generating an estimated $6 billion in annual revenue. In addition, the NBA, NHL and MLB have all eagerly embraced sports betting, signing marketing and data share deal with MGM Resorts International, while individual professional teams have made arrangements with local, land-based casinos. Even the NFL, which has been somewhat less supportive than other sports leagues when it comes to the gaming industry, recently signed a marketing deal with Caesars Entertainment. Meanwhile, domestic suppliers are ramping up their sports betting product and systems offerings, while overseas suppliers with devices that have proven successful in highly-competitive European sports wagering environments are flooding into the U.S.
    Expect more news, deals, technologies and revenues to arise from sports wagering for the foreseeable future. 
  • Macau on the mend: The gaming market in the enclave of Macau had been lagging in gross revenue growth for the past few years thanks to a host of political, social and crime concerns raised by the Chinese government. These issues and government oversight have lessened this year, and the Macau market has responded in a big way, generating $37.57 billion in gross revenue for 2018, a 14 percent increase over 2017 figures. Here’s hoping this growth rate will continue into the new year.
  • Slots back on the rise:For the most part, the slot machine marketplace had a very good 2018—momentum that it will hopefully carry into 2019. According to a third quarter 2018 report by Eilers & Krejcik, it is estimated that global slot machine growth increased 10 percent year-to-year, with an estimated 36,600 games sold for the quarter. Canada and U.S. slot machines sales increased 21 percent compared to the same quarter in 2017, driven by a 22 percent increase in replacement sales and a 12 percent uptick in expansionary sales. 
  • New head of the AGA: As evidenced by its stellar work in quarterbacking sports wagering expansion, the American Gaming Association (AGA) has become instrumental in insuring the gaming industry as a whole works together on issues that can improve the fortunes of all members. But when AGA President and CEO Geoff Freeman announced last June he was leaving the trade group, the post remained open a very long time, causing much Sturm und Drangin certain circles of the industry. Fortunately, this anxiety was laid to rest just prior to Christmas when Bill Miller, former senior vice president at the Business Roundtable, was appointed to the post. Miller has a lot of experience dealing with Capitol Hill, and should fill Freeman’s boots nicely in this regard.

Hopefully this news helped to warm the day.  As I finish this, it is a little before 5:00 p.m. and the sun has already set (sheesh). Spring really can’t come fast enough