The second quarter of 2020 was not a good one for the U.S. gaming industry, as total revenue dropped 79% due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdown of 1,000 casinos in March.
According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), total gross gaming revenue was down 79% from the second quarter of 2019. The total take was only $2.3 billion for all U.S. casinos. Table game revenue fell by 86%, slots revenue dropped by 82%, and sports betting suffered a 46% drop. The total gross gaming revenue for the year to date is $11.7 billion, down 46% from last year at this time.
AGA president and CEO Bill Miller addressed the issue in a statement. “COVID-19 has undoubtedly posed the most difficult economic challenge the gaming industry has ever faced,” Miller said. “Yet, gaming’s record popularity prior to COVID-19, as well as our resilience in the midst of such adversity, is evidence of the industry’s foundation for continued success as we emerge from the pandemic.”
Many other industries were affected by shutdown during the pandemic, but casinos bore the brunt of the damage, as their operating costs are humongous and continue even while closed.
Path to Recovery
The only good news in the gaming industry is in the iGaming sector, as online casinos crushed it during the pandemic. They were not forced to close as they did not have thousands of employees or visitors at risk of contracting coronavirus. The internet is the ultimate social distancing.
Casinos across the U.S. slowly began reopening in June and July, but a sudden spike in coronavirus cases caused strict measures to be applied. Masks are now required in most casinos for staff and guests, and temperature checks are being employed at the entrances to many casinos.
But the overall numbers are down due to the safety protocols in place at casinos. When every other slot is turned off, half of the slot revenue suffers as a result. Total table game seats were also reduced. And casinos also took a huge hit when they were forced to close their restaurants and public entertainment spectacles, which all contribute to gross casino revenue. Not to mention the massive drop in tourism and the resulting empty hotel rooms.
But Miller remains optimistic about the path to recovery, and stated that there is a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.
“The gaming industry has been a leader in implementing rigorous, innovative protocols that have allowed the vast majority of our properties to reopen and stay open,” Miller said. “With business returning to casino floors and sportsbooks seeing increased action, the gaming industry is steadily charting a responsible path to recovery that prioritizes health and safety, supports the communities where we operate and offers first-class entertainment.”
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