Few would argue that the gaming industry financially took it in the teeth during the first weeks and months of the COVID-19 epidemic—not surprising, given that the primary way of stopping the spread of coronavirus was by shutting down businesses that draw mass crowds of people, which is the very definition of a casino resort.
So color me pleasantly surprised and pleased at the way the gaming marketplace has economically bounced back from the dark days of near total industry shutdown this past spring, as shown on the Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker, a research tool recently launched by the American Gaming Association (AGA). The Tracker features monthly and year-to-date gross gaming revenue (GRR) at a state and national level, broken down by individual gaming verticals. At press time, a report on revenue statistics for July had just become available, and at first glance the results appear to be nothing to crow about, with the industry posting a 23.9 percent year-over-year revenue decline.
Dig a little deeper, however, and the fortunes of the casino market are actually looking up—at least from a revenue perspective. Indeed, in July, national commercial gaming revenue continued to recover from lows in April and May, the height of the industry’s COVID-19-related shutdown. While July revenue was down year-over-year, it was the third straight month of dramatically improving revenue conditions for commercial gaming, thanks in part to the partial opening of 32 commercial casinos during the month—including all properties in Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts and New Jersey. All told, the industry generated $2.83 billion in combined gross gaming revenue (GGR) in July—which was more GGR than in the three preceding months combined.
The report also highlighted the fact that many gaming states recorded strong revenue figures for July despite continuing to operate with limited capacity, game availability and amenities. Ohio reported its highest monthly gaming revenue on record, while Mississippi, Pennsylvania and South Dakota outperformed July of last year and six other states saw gaming revenue down by only single-digit percentages.
Sure, these are small victories on the grand scale that is the ongoing coronavirus recession, but minor wins are better than nothing at all, and good harbingers for the future.