Following a year of restrictions in casinos ranging from closures to capacity limits, gamblers have recently been filling them and wagering big money since the venues have reopened to regular traffic. According to the American Gaming Association, the casino industry is alive and well recording the best second quarter in history with $13.6 billion in gambling revenue. The group also says that the casino industry has almost matched the annual revenue recorded in 2020 where shutdowns and limitations were in place reducing the revenue generation to levels far below previous years.
The AGA states that 2021 is on track to be the best year ever for US casinos beating the previous annual record of $43.6 billion in 2019. Online sports betting revenue in the second quarter was down 8% with a total of $889 million. This is typical in the second quarter due to a slower sports calendar minus some professional sporting events. However, internet gambling set a new record in the second quarter with revenue totaling $901 million. That is up 15% from the first three months of the year.
As for the individual casinos, the top earner for the second quarter of 2021 was Rivers Casino with a revenue total of $123,448,058.33. The Grand Victoria Casino was second, generating $39,404,167.59 in revenue. Farrah’s Joliet Casino & Hotel was third with $36,555,909.62. Hollywood Casino Aurora was fourth with $25.9-million followed by Hollywood Casino Joliet ($22.5-million), DraftKings at Casino Queen ($18.2-million), Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino ($17.1-million), Harrah’s Metropolis Casino ($16.5-million), Jumer’s Casino & Hotel ($11.1-million), and Argosy Casino Alton ($8.4-million). Slots were the most popular game in the state, according to Spin Casino.
What They Had To Say
AGA president and chief executive officer Bill Miller says, “These first half results are truly remarkable. COVID-19 is not yet in the rearview mirror, but I’m confident the record first half of 2021 has laid a strong foundation for the industry’s full recovery.” However, the report does not acknowledge the potential impact of the more contagious Delta variant of the virus. It became a much larger problem near the end of the second quarter and is responsible for the majority of new cases across the US.
While there has been no hint of new closures or restrictions to reduce the spread of the Delta variant, gamblers are generally pleased to be able to spend time in their favorite land-based casino. “We’ve had a setback for sure with the Delta variant and some challenges with vaccinations, but I think we’re going to get through it,” Miller adds. “We have, as an industry, focused very strongly on ensuring that we’re providing both a safe environment for our employees and our guests.” As for federal and state directives, Miller says, “We also continue to listen to where our governmental leaders tell us what we need to do.”
As can be expected, gamblers are quite excited to finally be able to get back in front of the slots or sit at tables playing blackjack. It takes far more effort thansports betting online, for example according to the New York Times. Many are still taking precautions and others are not. For example, Jeanne Bachand of Bridgeport, Connecticut says, “I am not concerned, I am vaccinated. I live by the rule I will take care of myself and not worry about how anyone else lives their lives. I do what I feel is right for me.” Gene Brandon of Ridgefield, Connecticut states, “When going now, I still mask up to reduce the chance of inadvertently contracting and transmitting to those that are not vaccinated.” He was going to the casino on average, twice a month before the pandemic. Mike Wolk, Sr. of Sewell, NJ adds, “I don’t wear a mask but I am getting a little concerned (about the Delta variant).”
Second Quarter Down In Illinois
Stats released by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) show that in-person gambling was strong in the second quarter of 2021. There are a total of ten land-based casinos in operation in Illinois. The combined total adjusted gross revenue for the period of April to June 2021 was $320,130,014.65. That generated a total of $57,398,673.70 in tax revenue for the state. The second quarter was also considerably higher than the $209,918,469.54 collected from the period of January to March 2021.
The Current Situation
The AGA has indicated that all 25 states with commercial casinos have not imposed capacity restrictions at this time. Out of those states, twenty-two of them reported an increase in gambling revenue in the second quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2019. Plus, 19 of those states have also exceeded the totals they recorded for the first half of 2019. The data from the second quarter of 2020 is not used as there were months of closures due to the pandemic which severely impacted the gambling revenue numbers. The combination of sports betting and internet gambling kept the casino industry active in 2020 when land-based casinos were closed and later reopened with capacity limits. The American Gaming Association points to the lifting of some COVID-19 protocols as having a positive impact on the gambling industry.
The gambling industry took quite a hit during the peak of the pandemic. However, it has most certainly bounced back so far in 2021. Figures indicate that the first half of this year has been record-setting on many different levels. Several states, including Illinois, are on a record pace having already recorded a bigger second quarter than the first three months of this year. One of the contributing factors is an increase in the number of online gambling sites opening in states like Illinois.
Gamblers are still cautious but are filling the casinos in much the way they were pre-COVID. Plus, with the bonus of sports betting and online gambling, the industry has found new streams of income that have kept it afloat. With the potential of further restrictions resulting from the impact of the Delta variant of the virus, there may be closures on the horizon that could effectively derail what has so far been a record-setting year. Only time will tell what the future holds for casinos in the US for the rest of 2021.