The commercial gaming scene in the US last year suffered greatly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the American Gaming Association (AGA) has now put a number on the extent of the damage. According to a report published by the group yesterday, US commercial gaming operations lost 31% of the revenue they had seen a year earlier, recording the lowest level experienced since 2013. Everyone is now looking at 2021 to help them recuperate lost ground.
Commercial casinos were forced to cut out around 27% of their normal working schedules last year, opening for a combined 124,882 days. A year earlier, that figure was 170,484 across all properties. As a result of the reduction and states’ restrictions on casino activity, the US commercial gaming industry was able to generate just about $30 billion by the time the year closed. The crux of the damage came in the second and third quarters, with the fourth quarter finally seeing a slight rebound. It produced $9.2 billion for the country’s casinos, a sequential increase of 1.7% over the third-quarter results, but that was still off by 17% from the fourth-quarter activity of 2019.
Per the AGA’s report, President and CEO Bill Miller asserts, “COVID-19 devastated our business and the employees and communities across the country that rely on casino gaming’s success. We have persevered by leading responsible reopening efforts, supporting our employees, and extending a hand to our communities. Still, these numbers show the economic realities of COVID-19 and underscore the importance of targeted federal relief and ramped-up vaccine distribution to accelerate gaming’s recovery in 2021.”
As the industry started to rebound last summer, there has been a slow return to normal activity by casinos. Now, there are 911 open out of the total 998 in the country; however, many are still operating at greatly reduced capacities. Just this week, Nevada’s casinos were allowed to increase their occupancy to 35% of their normal levels after spending months at 25% or less. Even though there are still more casinos that could potentially reopen this year, the reality is that some of those are going to be permanently shuttered due to a lack of funds.