2021 set a new record as the highest-grossing year ever for the U.S. commercial gaming industry, reaching US$53 billion in gaming revenue.
According to the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker, that total breaks 2019’s previous industry record of US$44 billion by more than 21 per cent.
With most jurisdictions now fully open for business and the country’s iGaming and sports betting industries taking further steps, the year ended on a high note, setting an all-time quarterly gaming revenue record in Q4 2021 of US$14.31 billion.
Of the 34 operational commercial gaming jurisdictions in 2021 — including four new markets — 23 set individual records for full-year commercial gaming revenue. On a national level, every commercial gaming vertical set new annual revenue records.
Traditional brick-and-mortar gaming led the industry’s recovery, with 2021 combined slot and table gaming revenue totalling US$44.94 billion, a 6.6 per cent increase over 2019’s previous record.
Sports betting’s growth accelerated in 2021, taking huge leaps to generate US$57.22 billion in handle and US$4.29 billion in revenue — jumps of 165 per cent and 177 per cent over 2020, respectively.
AGA President and CEO Bill Miller called the results “nothing short of remarkable”.
Though he warned that the industry’s total recovery is still reliant on the full return of travel and large events, he expressed optimism that 2022 will prove to yield continued growth.
“Our incredible rate of recovery sets us apart from others in the hospitality sector and the broader economy,” he added, per Forbes. “I’m really optimistic about where we’re headed. That optimism is rooted in our industry’s extraordinary recovery, topping $50 billion for the first time ever.”
The sector’s all-time high was boosted by the launch of seven new commercial sports betting markets in Arizona, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, South Dakota, Virginia, and Wyoming, adding to the strong demand seen in established markets like Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Two new iGaming markets, Connecticut and Michigan, also opened in 2021, helping the sector to a record US$3.71 billion in revenue. Combined sports betting and iGaming revenue for the year totalled US$8 billion, up 158 per cent from 2020 and accounting for a record 15.1 per cent of annual industry gaming revenue.
“That’s just the beginning,” Miller added, per Covers. “Sports betting in Nebraska and Ohio will come online and Maryland’s mobile launch is in the works. Seven new states are considering sports betting legislation this year, and four states are considering iGaming.”
All of these figures do not even include the handle and revenue seen by Native American casinos and sports-betting operations. Miller noted that tribal leaders have indicated that 2021 was also their best year on record.