The American Gaming Association says commercial casino revenue has risen for five straight years, in a June 5, 2020 story. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

US commercial casinos won $43.6 billion in 2019, up 3.7%

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Helped by the continuing spread of legal sports betting, commercial casinos in the U.S. won $43.6 billion from gamblers last year, an increase of 3.7% from the previous year.

In a report issued late Wednesday, The American Gaming Association, the casino industry’s national trade group, said commercial casino revenue has risen for five straight years.

The numbers do not include tribal casinos, which report revenue on a different schedule. Last fall, tribal casinos reported revenue of $33.7 billion in fiscal year 2018, up 4.1% from a year earlier.

The commercial casinos were aided in part by a continuing expansion of sports betting, with more than $13 billion wagered legally last year.

The report was issued as some casinos are beginning to emerge from a nearly three-month shutdown due to the coronavirus outbreak. Those closures, which affected virtually every commercial and tribal casino in the nation, are sure to put an end this year to the streak of rising gambling revenue in the U.S.

“Within a span of 11 days, the commercial casino industry went from continued record-breaking growth to complete shutdown,” said Bill Miller, the association’s president and CEO. “The American gaming industry has never faced a bigger challenge. But we have proven time and again that we are resilient.”

The report tracked gambling activity in the 25 states with commercial casinos and found that 21 of them posted yearly revenue increases in 2019.

Fourteen states set records for casino revenue: Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Rhode Island.

The industry paid nearly $10.16 billion in gambling taxes, the first time that figure has ever surpassed $10 billion in the U.S.

Sports betting was behind at least part of the increases. New Jersey won a U.S. Supreme Court case in 2018 that cleared the way for all 50 states to legalize such wagering. So far, according to the report, 20 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation allowing legal sports betting, although several have not yet launched it.

Sportsbook operators took in $908.9 million in sports betting revenue in 2019, more than double the $430.7 million they won in 2018.

Strong growth in sports betting and internet gambling helped New Jersey report its highest gambling revenue total in a decade, up 19.5% to $3.46 billion.

That helped New Jersey narrowly reclaim its former position as the nation’s No. 2 gambling market after Nevada, which saw over $12 billion in revenue last year. New Jersey edged back ahead of Pennsylvania, which saw $3.38 billion in revenue last year, according to the report.

New York saw $2.73 billion last year, up 5.5%; Louisiana saw $2.46 billion, down nearly 4%, and Indiana saw $2.24 billion, which was virtually unchanged from a year earlier.

A first full year of sports betting also boosted gambling markets in Mississippi, up 2.8% to $2.2 billion, and Rhode Island, up 1.8% to $668.4 million, despite expanding competition in neighbouring Massachusetts.

At the end of 2019, there were 524 tribal casinos operating in 29 states, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission, compared with 465 commercial casinos in 25 states.

By The Associated Press

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