Here’s more proof that the house always wins: In 2021, America’s gaming industry had its highest-grossing year ever. Again.
The industry rolled in $53 billion in revenue last year — breaking the previous industry record by more than 20% registered in 2019, according to the American Gaming Association. Last year’s record also shattered 2020 levels, when a Covid-affected industry struggled with a months-long shutdown and brought in just $30 billion.
In a press release, AGA CEO Bill Miller said last year’s results are “nothing short of remarkable.” Growth was spurred by a massive increases in sports betting, online gambling and traditional brick-and-mortar gaming at casinos. Also, more states legalized gambling (up to 33 and the District of Columbia) and 23 of them set full-year revenue records.
Casinos continue to be the biggest money makers, with combined slot and table gaming revenue totaling about $45 billion, a 6.6% increase over 2019. Sports betting also had an influx of growth in revenue, growing to more than $4 billion, and online gaming grew to $3.7 billion in revenue.
Miller said he’s “optimistic” that growth will continue this year, but that the gaming industry is “still reliant on the full return of travel and large events, which requires a safe health environment and open economy.”
In particular, Las Vegas is still trying to get back to normal. MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle said in an earnings call last week that January visits had “significant headwinds,” including cancellations because of the Omicron variant. However, with declining number of Covid-19 cases, he added that hotel bookings are once “once again starting to outpace 2019 levels.”
Visits to the Nevada city reached 32.2 million in 2021, which was only 75% of the pre-pandemic tourism total of 42.5 million set in 2019.