2021 was the best year ever to run a regulated US gambling operation. According to the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker, US-facing operators took in a record $53 billion worth of revenue for the year. Last year’s massive number goes a long way towards blacking out the grim results of Covid closures and points the way to a very profitable future.
That $53 billion not only marks a new record that eclipses the previous record of $43.65 billion, which was set in 2019. Q4 2021 also set a new quarterly record with $14.3 billion, breaking the previous quarterly record of $13.93 billion, which was set in Q3 2021.
Traditional, brick and mortar table gaming (including slots) was the star of the show in 2021, accounting for $44.94 billion worth of revenue all on its own. That number reflected the surge of Americans who headed back to the casinos in 2021, and was seemingly unimpaired by Omicron surge beginning in November, 2021.
Regulated sports betting, which has grown from nothing in just a couple of years, accounted for just $4.92 billion worth of 2021 gaming revenue, up 177 percent over 2020. The combined handle for the year came in at an impressive $57.2 billion, a leap of 165 percent over 2020.
AGA President and CEO Bill Miller could barely contain his glee in a statement announcing 2021’s big numbers saying, “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.”
Absent any new calamities, variants, or unforeseen catastrophes, 2022 could well make 2021’s numbers small by comparison.