US Gambling Revenue Fell 31 Percent in 2020 Due to Covid-19

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A national casino industry group said this past week that the pandemic cut the US gambling revenue by 31 percent in 2020, compared with the year before.

The American Gaming Association’s annual Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker put the revenue total at $30 billion for 2020, marking the first market contraction for the industry since 2014 and the lowest total since 2003.

“COVID-19 devastated our business and the employees and communities across the country that rely on casino gaming’s success,” association President and CEO Bill Miller said in a statement that also pointed to the effects of a “standstill” involving live entertainment, meetings and conventions.

“Hospitality and travel have been among the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic,” Miller said. “These numbers show the economic realities of COVID-19 and underscore the importance of targeted federal relief and ramped-up vaccine distribution.”

The report from the industry advocacy and lobbying group noted the decrease in revenues in 2020 was far greater than the 8.4 percent drop charted from 2007 to 2009 during the Great Recession.

The organization reported what it termed positive momentum in the past three months of the year, tallying nearly $9.2 billion in revenue — up 1.7 percent from the third quarter.

Commercial casinos lost 27 percent of normal operating days throughout 2020 because of mandated COVID-19 closures and disruptions caused by hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, according to the report.

It estimated that casinos were open, with capacity restrictions, for just under 125,000 days during the year instead of more than 170,000 days.

Of 998 casinos in the U.S., the association said 911 have resumed operations since being allowed to reopen last summer. By the end of the year, 37 commercial casinos remained shuttered in Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico and South Dakota.

In Las Vegas, MGM Resorts International announced Wednesday it will resume round-the-clock hotel operations March 3 at Mandalay Bay, Park MGM and The Mirage. The properties had implemented mid-week closures due to decreased business during the pandemic.

The association report said 2020 was buoyed by new options including more widespread legal sports betting, which reached an all-time high of $1.5 billion in revenue, up 69 percent year-over-year. iGaming revenue nearly tripled, to almost $1.6 billion.

Revenue from table games was down 39.4 percent for the year, and slot machine revenue was down 33.8 percent, the report said.

All 24 states with commercial casinos saw revenue contract in 2020, compared with 2019. The largest decreases were 79 percent in New Mexico, where closures lasted longer than other states; 57 percent in New York and 56 percent in Michigan, where casinos reopened relatively late; and 51 percent in Rhode Island, where casinos closed a second time.

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