US Gaming Industry Wins Record $53B in 2021, Casino Revenue Betters 2019

In the United States right now, the number of states that have some degree of legalized commercial gambling is 34 including DC. Apart from the financial reports compile at the state level, the American Gaming Association (AGA) is mandated to compile revenue reports at the federal level. According to reports from AGA, the cumulative total revenue for 2021 was almost $53 billion by the end of the year. This performance which every stakeholder is still talking about topped the existing record of $43.65 billion that was set in 2019. 

AGA President and CEO, Bill Miller could not hold back his delight as he reacted to the countrywide gambling industry report. He pointed out that the performance of the industry as a whole is very encouraging and might be a strong point in enticing the remaining states to get legalized. 

It is no secret that the pandemic restrictions that were in force for the better part of 2020 caused a large number of bettors to have a heightened urge to gamble. This explains why there has been an unprecedented surge in the performance of the brick-and-mortar casino sub-sector that started in early 2021. Out of the $52.99 billion total casino revenue of 2021, $32.53 billion was as a result of gambling on retail slot machines. Physical table games within gambling establishments managed to collect $8.78 billion, adding the physical collections to $41.31 billion – if you look at this figure as a percentage of the whole, it accounts for 78% of the 2021 revenue.

The revenue collected from the slots is indicative of a 68% year-over-year gain and is also representative of a 10% increase from 2019. Gambling income collected from table games rose by 67% and 1.1% in 2020 and 2021 respectively. Miller reveals that the tally from AGA does not factor any gaming revenue as a result of tribal operations. His guess is that the figures will help to boost the revenues as a large number of Native American tribes have indicated an impressive performance for 2021. 

Is it true that casinos won $53B?

There have been numerous reports from media outlets on the 2021 AGA revenue report but most of their headlines have been erroneous. The major claim that most of them are making is that commercial casino winnings in 2021 were $53 billion. This could not be further from the truth essentially because a huge chunk of gambling revenue is shared amongst third-party operators that have no claim to ownership or operation of land based casinos. 

With regards to sports betting, growth in the sector continued to go up with the progression of 2021 – aligning with the creation of champions as announced from the WSOP winter tournament. With the addition of seven more market into legal gambling operations, the figures were bound to be higher than those of the past year. The GGR as a result of sports betting, which includes mobile and retail wagering was a whopping $4.29 billion. 

The total handle – or money used as bets – was $57.22 billion. That is an upward surge of 165% from what bettors spent on bets in 2020, which marks a new high. iGaming, which comprises of table games and slot machines, had a total of $3.71 billion from bets made by casino players. The future of the iGaming industry is something that many analysts are shy to comment on but the large global youth population is all it takes to change the narrative.

Industry diversification catering to growing demand

Reports by AGA suggest that the level of product diversification in the gambling industry has been quite instrumental in dealing with the growing demand. The gambling industry today is inventing new ways of engaging with customers and meeting them at a place and time convenient to them. Proof of this is in the multiple betting platforms available to players both in physical establishments and on online offerings. 

Top of the range revenue

Out of all the 34 legalized markets in the United States, all of them had an impressive revenue collection in 2021. Actually, the American Gaming Association reports that 23 markets have set new GGR records in their respective jurisdictions. While it is a fact that 2021 was the best year yet for the gambling fraternity in relation to 2020, the main measure is against the figures obtained in 2019. A total of 15 markets experienced better revenue compared to their performance in 2019. 

As per the financial reports, Nevada holds the top position in matters of casino wealth and assets. In 2021, the Nevada betting scene generated an upward of $13.4 billion in casino wins. This was a newly created record that overturned the previous mark of $12.85 billion, attained in 2007. Casinos in the Las Vegas strip clearly maintained the market dominance and position as the top gaming market in the country. The GGR also attained a new record based on the $7 billion collected. 

At position two is Atlantic City which has maintained this ranking out of the host of active and legalized gambling markets in the US. For the operators of the New Jersey state, the GGR of $2.55 billion they generated in 2021 is an indication of the efforts made to grow the industry. In matters of in-person play however, brick-and-mortar casinos are yet to recover from the after effects of the pandemic. This explains to great length why the 9 major gambling properties in AC managed to raise $2.68 billion in revenue. 


After close to two years of restricted movement due to the pandemic, there is a growing demand for remote jobs, remote gaming, remote learning, and the like. Judging from the performance of the gaming industry after adoption of new delivery channels, it appears that remote is surely the way to go. Well, gaming investors better take advantage of this new norm because there is no telling how long it will last.

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