The pandemic hurt pretty much every industry that relies on leaving one’s home – but there are some that were hit really hard. Movie theaters, live music events, airports and airlines, sports franchises, and hospitality have seen their revenues drop to their lowest in years, maybe decades. One of the hardest-hit businesses in North America was, in turn, the gambling industry. According to a recent report published by the American Gaming Association (AGA), the closure of pretty much every casino in North America has decreased the industry’s revenues by close to 80%.
The pandemic hit… hard
The close to 1000 commercial casinos across pretty much every state in the US have been closed in March – and dozens of them haven’t reopened to this day. But even those that have returned from their forced slumber now adhere to social distancing and other health measures, which means that their revenues are sensitively smaller than before.
The total gross gaming revenue of the industry for the entire 2020 has declined by 45.6%, to just $11.7 billion compared to the same period of last year. The drop was the most dramatic in the second quarter, though, with its lowest point reached in April. According to the AGA, slot machine revenues have contracted by 81.9% in this time period, and table game revenue fell by 86%. Sports betting also felt the lack of sports to bet on: revenues in this area decreased by 46%.
Online casinos, in turn, have seen perhaps their best year yet in the US. After all, they represent the form of gambling that not only doesn’t require driving for hours or flying across half the country to Las Vegas or Atlantic City – it can easily be done at home. While land-based casinos have seen their weakest month in ages, online casinos have seen their turnover skyrocket, undoubtedly helped by the news about some recent big wins, like the jackpot hit at the JackpotCity online casino that made a Canadian construction worker a millionaire overnight.
iGaming revenues across the US have skyrocketed among the pandemic. The AGA reports that revenues from online gambling have grown by a staggering 253.8% compared to the second quarter of 2019, to a bit over $400 million. In August alone, iGaming has generated $145.3 million in the US, growing by 224.2% year-on-year.
Sports betting recovers
If the first half of the year was dull for sports betting operators, they’ve recovered a good part of their lost revenue in August. Helped by the busy sports calendar – the NBA resumed its season at the end of July, while the NHL, in early August – sports betting has seen its revenues grow by 101% in August, to $126.7 million. August was second only to January 2020 when the branch reported revenues of $138.9 million.
In most states, commercial casinos have reopened or are in the process of reopening. While many states report double-digit decreases in their revenues, others that have successfully managed to reopen are slowly returning to their pre-pandemic numbers.
“COVID-19 has undoubtedly posed the most difficult economic challenge the gaming industry has ever faced,” AGA President and CEO Bill Miller said. “Yet, gaming’s record popularity prior to COVID-19, as well as our resilience in the midst of such adversity, is evidence of the industry’s foundation for continued success as we