After COVID slowed down sports betting in 2020, the U.S. commercial gaming industry made a triumphant return in 2021. The American Gaming Association announced Americans bet $57.22 billion on sports in 2021. It generated $4.29 billion in revenue, jumps of 165 percent, and 177 percent over 2020 respectively.
Highest-Grossing Sports Betting Year Ever
Additionally, 2021 was a record-breaking year for casinos. They had their highest-grossing year ever in the United States, reaching $53 billion in revenue, according to the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker. The previous record was in 2019, which saw a total revenue of $43.65 billion. That means a 21 percent increase in 2021.
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The end of the year played a big part in that record. The AGA reported the industry closed on a high note It set an all-time quarterly revenue record in Q4 2021 of $14.31 billion. This passed the previous record of $13.93 billion set in Q3 2021. Two strong, record-breaking quarters helped bring the revenue up 21 percent.
In a statement from AGA President and CEO Bill Miller, he said, “These results are nothing short of remarkable. The success of 2021 reflects our commitment to health and safety and how Americans have welcomed gaming’s expansion across the country. Today’s industry is effectively meeting customers how and where they want to engage—whether at a casino or through mobile gaming.”
Rapid Growth For Sports Betting
Furthermore, sports betting is continuing its rapid growth into the industry. We saw $57.22 billion wagered on legal sportsbooks in 2021. That is an increase of 165% from 2020. From the $57.22 billion, casinos and sportsbooks saw $4.29 billion in revenue after they paid out winning bets and other expenses were paid. That makes for an increase of 177% from 2020.
The sector’s all-time high was powered by strong demand in established markets like Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Additionally, expanding to more states contributed to sports betting growth. In 2021, new commercial sports betting markets were launched in:
- South Dakota
Currently, more than 130 million adults can legally wager on sports close to their homes. Sports betting is now legal in 30 states plus Washington, DC.
Internet Gambling Markets
Additionally, we saw an expansion in internet gambling markets, as new markets opened in Connecticut and Michigan in 2021. This expansion helped the sector set a record with $3.7 billion in revenue.
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Combining internet gambling revenue with sports betting revenue results in a total of $8 billion in revenue for 2021. That’s up 158% from 2020.
Casinos Still King
When all else fails, casinos are still where the revenue is coming from. Traditional brick-and-mortar gaming led the industry’s recovery from a rough 2020. In 2021, the combined slot and table gaming revenue totaled $44.94 billion. This was a 6.6 percent increase over 2019’s previous record.
All of these numbers do not include tribal casinos, as they report their revenue separately. Miller did say that “tribal leaders have similarly shared with me that 2021 was their best year on record.”
Records Are Broke Everywhere
The records keep getting broken for this industry in 2021. Of the 34 operational commercial gaming jurisdictions in 2021, which includes four new markets, 23 of them set individual records for full-year commercial gaming revenue. On the national level, every commercial gaming vertical set new annual revenue records.
Slow Return On Leisure and Business Travel
While all these records are broken, industry leaders still have concerns. The AGA stated there has been a slow return of business and leisure travel during the pandemic. Miller stated overall travel spending is down 20% from pre-pandemic levels.
Miller said, “Business travel, meetings and events, and entertainment — significant revenue-drivers for many operators — have been slow to return. The impact of this is compounded by depressed international visitation to the U.S., which is critical for the full recovery of destination markets like Las Vegas. And visitation among the older, core casino audience is only just getting back to pre-pandemic levels.”
COVID is still wreaking havoc on the industry, but Miller is optimistic for 2022. He said, “Despite our record-setting year, gaming’s total recovery is still reliant on the full return of travel and large events, which requires a safe healthy environment and open economy. I’m optimistic that we will see continued growth throughout 2022.”
More To Come In 2022 for Sports Betting
Optimistically, it looks like 2022 is already off to a strong start. The launch of mobile sports betting in Louisiana and New York is huge. In just four weeks, they have become the top sports betting locations in the nation. They have seen over $2 billion wagered already.
Expansion will continue to happen in the industry. Miller expects sports betting to be added online in Ohio and Nebraska in 2022. Maryland’s mobile launch “is in the works,” Miller added.
Furthermore, Miller stated seven additional states are considering sports betting legislation. Four of them are weighing online gambling legislation.
Casinos are king though and Miller said physical casinos will open this year in Virginia. Additionally, several new racetrack casinos will open in Nebraska.
AGA Sports Betting Goals For 2022
The American Gaming Association knows that American adults have always bet on sports. They would find a way to do it before, but now Americans have regulated options.
As a result, one of the AGA’s goals in 2022 is to get more people away from offshore sportsbooks. Instead, they want them to use regulated ones here in the United States.
Americans are searching for legal sportsbooks 10x more often than their biggest offshore competitors. They favor the online sports betting ads they’ve seen on TV.
One deterrent is the media seems to use offshore odds, which is giving these unregulated sportsbooks free publicity. The AGA is on a mission to stop that in 2022.
While revenue continues to grow and access to gambling becomes easier, the AGA is making it a goal to have more resources and make responsible gaming more visible. For 2022, streamlining access to problem gambling resources is a top priority for the agency. As records are broken, they realize the need for these resources continues to rise also.