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Pent-Up Demand Sparks Best Quarter In History Of U.S. Casino Industry

Commercial Casinos Won $11.1 Billion During The First Quarter Of 2021, According To The American Gaming Association


Commercial casinos in the United States had its best three-month stretch in the history of the country’s gaming market.

According to the American Gaming Association, U.S. casinos won $11.1 billion from gamblers in the first quarter of 2021. Operators generated those numbers from the start of the year through the end of March. It ties the third quarter of 2019 for the best quarter in the market’s history.

Those figures represent an 18% year-over-year jump in revenue, which doesn’t say much since the entire brick-and-mortar casino market shut down in mid-March 2020. But it is still a 4% increase from the first quarter of 2019, well before the pandemic took hold in the U.S. The revenue does not include money won by tribal casinos.

According to a report from the Associated Press, several casino CEOs are bullish on the industry as it appears that gamblers are itching to get back to normal life and return to casinos. Terry Glebocki, CEO of Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, echoed those sentiments to the news agency.

“I do think we’re seeing more and more people feeling more comfortable coming out [to casinos],” Glebocki told the AP. “There’s a ton of pent-up demand out there. People want to go out and have fun, and that’s what you do at a casino.”

What makes the quarter even more remarkable is that nearly the entire market was operating under capacity restrictions forced by the government. 14 of the 25 states with commercial casinos were limited to under 50% capacity. A couple of those states, including Pennsylvania, had shutdowns during that timeframe as well.

March was an especially good month for casinos as 12 states reported record-setting revenue levels. Arkansas, Coloardo, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Virginia all had the best month in the history of the respective gambling markets. Nevada, the largest gambling market in the country, hit the $1 billion revenue mark for the first time since February 2020.

With online gaming as widespread as it has ever been in the U.S., as well as an ever-expanding number of states legalizing sports betting, the new avenues to gamble acted as a springboard to higher levels. Brick & mortar casinos actually had a 10% drop compared to the first quarter of 2019, but online gambling boosted the numbers to pass prior levels.

The American sports betting market also set new records with $961 million in the first quarter of 2020. It’s a 270% increase year-over-year and was more than all of 2019 when sportsbooks when a combined $909 million for the year.