American Gaming Association President Bill Miller struck an optimistic tone about the U.S. gaming industry Wednesday after reporting a record $60.4 billion in commercial operator revenue for 2022 from combined casino gaming, sports wagering, and internet casino gambling.
The figure was 13.9% higher compared to 2021, which was also then a record at $53 billion. Legal sports wagering revenue saw the largest growth in terms of percentage, surging 72.7% to more than $7.5 billion, aided by a 8.8% nationwide hold in the fourth quarter when operators reported more than $2.5 billion in gross revenue.
Though iGaming represented the smallest revenue contribution at just over $5 billion, it was a year-over-year increase of 35.2%. All six states that currently offer the internet casino gaming suite had substantial growth and set revenue records.
At brick-and-mortar casinos, table games revenue ticked 13.9% higher to $10 billion, while slots-derived revenue was 5.1% higher compared to 2021 at nearly $34.2 billion. Though tribal gaming figures were not available, it is estimated those venues generated $41 billion in revenue, lifting the nationwide total of all gaming revenue above $100 billion.
Miller reiterated his view from the Global Gaming Expo last fall that the illegal gaming marketplace remains the biggest threat to growth in the industry. But he also said the legal marketplace “started 2023 with some serious momentum” and “the fundamentals of our industry are strong.”
In-person wagering continues to be backbone
“The state of our industry is strong.
We’ve come off of our best year ever.
We’re collaborating more as an industry.
We’re leading with confidence.
And we’re looking at the future with optimism.”
— American Gaming Association (@AmericanGaming) February 15, 2023
In-person revenue accounted for roughly 80% of all commercial gaming revenue, as 32 of the 36 states plus Washington, D.C., saw year-over-year gains. Fourteen of the top 20 commercial markets also realized revenue gains from 2021, with the Baltimore-Washington area reclaiming the third-largest market size for revenue from the Chicagoland area on the strength of an 8.7% increase to nearly $2.2 billion.
Las Vegas in particular saw a strong bounce-back while moving further from the COVID-19 pandemic, with the nation’s top gaming center reporting revenue up 17% versus 2021 to more than $8.2 billion. Atlantic City retained its comfortable No. 2 spot, with revenue up 8.5% to nearly $2.8 billion. Overall, nine commercial markets surpassed $1 billion in gaming revenue for 2022, with the Boulder Strip in Nevada falling less than $34 million short.
Both Miller and Dave Forman, the AGA’s vice president for research, were upbeat in their hopes for casino revenue to continue growing in 2023. Forman cited a study in which the average age of casino-goers last year was 42 compared to 50 in 2019. A survey also showed that 68% of casino visitors said they were there to gamble versus 42% in 2019, and 85% responded that casinos are “an excellent or good entertainment value compared to alternative options.”
Growth in the sports wagering sector came mainly from the launch of mobile sports wagering in New York, Maryland, and Louisiana, with the Empire State providing almost 20% of the $7.5 billion revenue total with close to $1.37 billion. Illinois, which had a 51% year-over-year increase in operator revenue to $795 million, pipped New Jersey for the No. 2 spot as Garden State revenue slipped 11% to $763 million.
The only new state to launch operations in 2022 was Kansas, though 2023 portends bigger things with Ohio having launched legal betting New Year’s Day and Massachusetts opening retail betting Jan. 31 ahead of a scheduled March 10 launch for mobile.
New Jersey, Michigan, and Pennsylvania accounted for more than 90% of the internet casino revenue reported, while West Virginia iGaming revenue soared 90.2% compared to 2021. There are currently five states — Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New Hampshire, and New York — where legislators have filed online casino bills for consideration, though their passage is uncertain in any of the states.
Tackling the illegal gaming marketplace
Miller again took aim at the illegal gambling marketplace, which the AGA claimed has more than $511 billion in annual activity. The agency estimated the $44.2 billion in illicit operator revenue deprived states of $13.3 billion in tax revenue. The AGA president said the organization will “continue that war against that unregulated and illegal gambling world.”
“We’re using every tool at our disposal to go after illegal businesses,” said Miller, commenting that nearly half the wagering conducted in the U.S. still originates in illegal marketplaces. “We won’t see these results overnight, but we’re in this one for the long haul. … The illegal market is the single biggest threat our industry faces.”
He expects the industry to continue prodding Congress to make sure law enforcement “prioritizes investigations and prosecutions, engaging state AGs and U.S. attorneys on how these bad actors flout the law.” Miller added that the industry continues to work with state legislators to “strengthen existing laws and close loopholes.”
Miller acknowledged the gambling industry is garnering more attention from conventional media, evidenced by in-depth coverage of sports wagering and tribal gaming recently by the The New York Times. In remarks separate from his address covering the industry, Miller pushed back on the negative tone of some of those stories, feeling some reporting was “pre-baked” and that he “disagreed with much of the premise.”
He cited the AGA’s “Have A Game Plan” public service announcement campaign, which promotes responsible gambling and has been embraced by many leaders in the industry and professional sports — most notably the NFL, the primary driver of the U.S. sports wagering market.
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