This year’s version of the American Gaming Association’s State of the States report has been released, and the findings are, in a word, fantastic.
According to the report, gaming revenue for the U.S. commercial casino industry reached an all-time high of $41.7 billion in 2018, up 3.5 percent from the previous year.
Other key findings from the report include:
- The commercial casino sector—with 465 casinos—logged its fourth consecutive year of gaming revenue growth and outpaced the national economic growth rate in 2018; and
- Half of the 24 states with commercial casinos reported record annual gaming revenue with nearly every state seeing gains in 2018, contributing to the strength of local economies across the country.
"Year after year, the commercial casino industry has reaffirmed its role as an economic powerhouse in the U.S.," said Bill Miller, president and CEO of the AGA, in a prepared statement. "More people than ever are experiencing the economic and social benefits of gaming in their communities, due in part to the expansion of legal sports betting across the country."
Indeed, the rapid expansion of legalized sports wagering following the Supreme Court decision to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May 2018 played a role in the industry's record year, the report states. Total industrywide revenue from sports betting grew to $430.2 million in 2018, up from $261.3 million in 2017. The AGA anticipates this growth to continue as additional states legalize and regulate sports wagering.
But dig deeper into the report, and you will find, as usual, revenues from electronic gaming machines continue to generate the bulk of yearly commercial casino revenues, and likely tribal casino revenue as well. As cited in the State of the States report, there are nearly 900,000 electronic gaming machines nationwide in commercial and tribal casinos as well as at non-casino locations such as bars, taverns and truck stops. Nearly half (47 percent) of these games are located in commercial casinos, while slightly fewer (41 percent) are found in tribal casinos. Nevada has an installed base of more than 160,000 machines, far and away the largest number of any state.
The good news is that other commercial states showed positive revenue trends on the gaming machine front. Among the highlights:
- By the end of 2018, there were 30,694 video gaming terminals (VGTs) installed at 6,773 convenience venues in Illinois, up from 28,271 VGTs and 6,359 venues at the close of 2017. Total statewide VGT revenue grew to $1.5 billion in 2018, up 15.1 percent, and VGTs in bars and other convenience venues now account for 58 percent of all electronic gaming device revenue in the state.
- Revenue from electronic gaming devices at New York’s 13 commercial casinos and racinos totaled $2.43 billion in 2018, an increase of 7.6 percent over 2017.
- In Ohio, revenue from electronic gaming devices was $1.60 billion, up 6.0 percent.
- Expanded machine gaming is now taking place in Virginia. In 2018, Virginia lawmakers enacted legislation to allow the shuttered Colonial Downs racetrack, located just outside of Richmond, to operate historical racing devices on-site and at as many as 10 affiliated off-track betting facilities in different parts of the state.
These are just a few examples of continued gaming machine prosperity in the U.S. commercial casino marketplace; a reminder that while gaming industry attention continues to focus on sports betting, the real engine of revenue growth is still running on all cylinders.