AGA Report: Q3 Gaming Revenues Rebound from Covid-19; Smoke-Free Profitable

A new report from the American Gaming Association shows that gaming revenues for the third quarter have rebounded from the Covid-19 shutdowns of Q2. And advocates of smoke-free casinos are pointing to the AGA report showing that revenue was up year-on-year at smoke-free casinos in six states.

A new report from the American Gaming Association shows a significant rebound in U.S. commercial gaming revenues for the third quarter of 2020, with a huge jump over Covid-restricted Q2 revenues and inching closer to pre-pandemic levels.

U.S. commercial gaming revenue for Q3 2020 totaled $9.04 billion, reaching 81 percent of the industry’s pre-Covid levels in Q3 2019, according to the AGA’s Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker. Q3 revenue is up 294 percent from the historic lows of Q2, caused by pandemic-driven, mandatory closures.

Covid-19 health and safety measures, including social distancing and capacity restrictions, have contributed to the gaming industry’s recovery lagging the country’s broader economic recovery. Gaming revenue is down 36.5 percent year-over-year (YoY) in the first nine months of 2020, compared to the U.S. GDP’s 3 percent decline in the same period.

“Our industry continues to prioritize the health and safety of our employees, customers, and communities above all else,” said Bill Miller, AGA president and CEO. “While these quarterly results are promising, the reality is a full recovery is dependent on continued public health measures to control prevalence rates.

“As state and local officials respond to current Covid-19 outbreaks with additional restrictions, urgent congressional action to provide Covid-19 relief is even more crucial. Gaming employees and communities depend on it,” Miller added.

More than 100 casinos reopened between July and September with 902 commercial and tribal casinos (90.8 percent of total) operational by the end of the third quarter, compared to 800 (80.8 percent of total) at the start of July.

Many states that saw encouraging gaming revenue growth in Q2 continued the positive trend in Q3 despite continued capacity restraints. Five states—Arkansas (+.3 percent), Mississippi (2.8 percent), Ohio (+7.5 percent), Pennsylvania (+3.8 percent), and South Dakota (+6.1 percent)—outperformed their Q3 2019 revenue figures. Looking only at the most recent month, September, the recovery trends continue with both Maryland (+1 percent) and New Jersey (+6.5 percent) also returning to YoY gaming revenue growth.

While nationwide slot and table game revenue remained down compared to Q3 2019, sports betting revenue bounced back in Q3 2020, bolstered by an unusually crowded sports calendar and strong consumer interest in new legal betting markets in Colorado, Illinois, Michigan and Washington, D.C. Americans legally wagered a record $5.95 billion in Q3, generating $352.3 million in gaming revenue—the second-highest ever quarterly total.

iGaming continued to grow in Q3 2020, due, in part, to West Virginia launching in July. iGaming generated $435 million in Q3, up 8 percent from Q2 and 232 percent from Q3 2019.

The report also shows that smoke-free casinos in Arkansas, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and South Dakota have experienced year-on-year revenue increases, prompting advocacy group American Nonsmokers’ Rights to release a statement urging more casinos to ban smoking.

“AGA’s report shows that casinos with smoke-free policies have experienced year-over-year revenue increases or remained relatively stable, a remarkable feat given unprecedented capacity restrictions due to Covid-19,” said Bronson Frick, director of advocacy of Americans Nonsmokers’ Rights. “Most importantly, casinos with 100 percent smoke-free policies, such as in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, have kept nearly all of their employees Covid-free.

“It makes no sense to allow guests to remove their mask and blow secondhand smoke along with droplets carrying a potentially life-threatening disease into shared indoor air. We urge gaming operators everywhere to adopt 100 percent smoke-free indoor policies to protect the health of their employees and guests, nearly 75 percent of whom prefer smoke-free casinos.”

Most casino jurisdictions have banned smoking on casino floors to prevent the spread of Covid-19, with the notable exception of Nevada.