Inflation may be soaring, supply chains remain clogged, and the coronavirus refuses to go away, but America’s casinos are humming along, with March being the best month in their history.
According to the American Gaming Association, the gambling industry’s national trade group, commercial casinos in the United States won more than $5.3 billion from gamblers in March, the highest single-month total ever. The previous record month was July 2021, when $4.92 billion was collected.
The casinos had their best first quarter ever, coming up just short of the $14.35 billion they earned from gamblers in the fourth quarter of last year, which was the highest three-month period in history. Arkansas ($147.4 million), Florida ($182 million), and New York ($996.6 million) all set quarterly revenue records to begin the year.
The figures exclude tribal casinos, which report separately and are expected to report similarly positive results.
While the national casino economy is doing well, there are some laggards, such as Atlantic City, where in-person casino revenue has yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels.
“Consumers continue to seek out gaming’s entertainment options in record numbers,” said Bill Miller, president and CEO of the association. He stated that the strong start to 2022 came “despite continued headwinds from supply chain constraints, labor shortages, and the impact of soaring inflation.”
On Wednesday, the trade group also released its annual State of the States report, which examines gambling’s performance across the country.
As previously reported, nationwide casino revenue will reach an all-time high of $53.03 billion in 2021, up 21% from the previous best year, 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the report contains new information, such as the fact that commercial casinos paid a record $11.69 billion in direct gambling tax revenue to state and local governments in 2021. This represents a 75% increase over 2020 and a 15% increase over 2019. According to the association, this does not include the billions more paid in income, sales, and other taxes.
It also ranked the top casino markets in the United States in terms of revenue for 2021:
The Las Vegas Strip is first at $7.05 billion, followed by: Atlantic City ($2.57 billion); the Chicago area ($2.01 billion); Baltimore-Washington D.C. ($2 billion); the Gulf Coast ($1.61 billion); New York City ($1.46 billion); Philadelphia ($1.40 billion); Detroit ($1.29 billion); St. Louis ($1.03 billion); and the Boulder Strip in Nevada ($967 million).
The Pennsylvania Gaming Association divides the state’s casinos into three distinct markets: Philadelphia, the Poconos, and Pittsburgh. If they were considered as a single entity, their combined revenue of nearly $2.88 billion would make them the country’s second largest market. It also considers downtown Las Vegas, with a revenue of $731 million, to be a separate market.
In 2021, seven more states legalized sports betting, and two more added internet gambling.
According to the group, many states saw gamblers spend more in casinos while visiting them in lower numbers than before the pandemic.
Last year, the average age of a casino patron was 43 1/2, compared to 49 1/2 in 2019. Last year, Americans wagered $57.7 billion on sports, more than doubling the amount wagered in 2020. This generated $4.33 billion in revenue, a nearly 180 percent increase over 2020.
Last year, internet gambling revenue reached $3.71 billion, with three states — New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan — each winning more than $1 billion. In its first full year of operation, West Virginia’s internet gambling market generated $60.9 million in revenue, while Connecticut’s two internet casinos generated $47.6 million in revenue after opening in October.