Commercial gaming in the United States hit a quarterly record for April, May and June, putting the U.S. on track for its best year in history, the American Gaming Association reported Thursday.
Nationwide commercial gaming revenue totaled $14.81 billion for the second quarter, beating the fourth quarter of 2021 by 3.3 percent.
With $29.16 billion generated through the first six months of 2022, the nation’s more than 460 commercial casinos were more than halfway to the record $53 billion won from gamblers in 2021.
Tribal authorities also reported record revenue this week. The National Indian Gaming Commission on Wednesday reported a record $39 billion generated in its 2021 fiscal year – an increase of 40 percent over the previous year and 13 percent more than in fiscal year 2019.
AGA President and CEO Bill Miller said the second quarter results underscore a 16-month span of gains for commercial gaming.
“With increasingly difficult year-over-year comparisons, our strength through the first half of 2022 reflects sustained consumer demand for legal options as well as gaming’s record popularity,” he said.
Traditional casino gaming continued to drive the industry’s success, Miller said, with both brick-and-mortar slot machines and table games seeing quarterly revenue records.
While slot machine revenue was up 0.2 percent year-over-year, revenue from table games jumped 18.2 percent, indicating the lingering impact that COVID restrictions had on table games in the first half of 2021. In the first six months of the year, traditional casino gaming generated $23.67 billion in revenue, 11.7 percent ahead of the first half of 2021.
Twenty-two of the 31 commercial gaming jurisdictions operating during the same period last year experienced revenue increases in the second quarter. Nine states, including Nevada, reported all-time quarterly highs: Arkansas, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon and Pennsylvania.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board late last month reported having the best June on record and the fifth-best month in history in reporting revenue of nearly $1.28 billion.
Miller is cautiously optimistic about the industry’s future, acknowledging inflationary pressures hitting all of the nation’s industries.
“While on pace to set an annual revenue record, we are cognizant of the continued impacts of inflation and labor challenges as well as marketplace concerns of potential recession,” Miller said. “Our members have proven their agility and resilience over the last two years and are well-positioned to face these potential headwinds heading into the second half.”
Nevada also saw dips in revenue in some markets in June. Statewide gaming win excluding the Las Vegas Strip was down 7.5 percent vs. June 2021. But special events in Southern Nevada continued to drive more tourist traffic and higher gaming numbers on the Strip.
Brendan Bussmann, a gaming industry analyst and founder of Las Vegas-based B Global, also had cautionary words about the record quarter for gaming.
“I know I sound like a broken record, but we are in unprecedented times with inflation harkening back to the 1970s, supply-chain issues, fuel prices teetering at record levels and a geopolitical landscape that hasn’t been seen in decades,” Bussmann said Thursday. “It’s not surprising that we are in a recession based off of all those factors. The resiliency of the industry will weather this storm and will come out stronger on the back side.”
He added that Nevada is well-positioned considering international tourism and convention traffic still haven’t returned to prepandemic levels.
“Nevada is probably best able to continue that ride as we still have international guests returning as well as the business customer through the return of MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) events,” Bussmann said. “But what we saw initially coming out of the Great Shutdown was the locals market returning quickly, but this is also the market that will likely start to cool.”