US Commercial Casinos Generate a $42.7 Billion GGR in 2018

US Commercial Casino Revenues 2018

US commercial casinos had $42.7 billion in gross gaming revenues, while tribal casinos are estimated to have topped $34 billion in GGR.

U.S. commercial casinos generated $42.7 billion in 2018, which was a 4% increase year-on-year over 2017. The 2018 numbers represent an all-time high for America’s casino gambling industry.

Ken Adams of Reno’s CDC Gaming Reports surveyed 23 commercial casino markets throughout the country to collate the numbers. The gross gaming revenue in those 23 markets included $42.69billion.

Given the record numbers, CDC’s report counters the common narrative that America’s casino gaming market is troubled. Las Vegas casino company shares largely fell in 2018, as companies like Caesars Entertainment had revenue troubles in the second half of the year.

Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts, and Wynn Resorts each had struggles in the second half of the year. Though Nevada is supposed to be going through struggles, its $11.9 billion in GGR was its third-highest revenue total in history. It is also the best mark since the Global Recession.

New Casinos in Northeast USA

While individual casino companies struggle with regional competition, market saturation is driving the record revenues. The good year was due to the opening of new commercial casinos in Atlantic City, Upstate New York, and Western Massachusetts.

In certain parts of the country, the installation of more slots-like video lottery terminals (VLTs) boosted numbers throughout the year. Sports betting over the final 7 months of 2017 drove revenue gains in New Jersey, Mississippi, Delaware, and West Virginia.

Sports Gambling Boosts Revenues

The sports gambling revenues were a welcome addition after the May 14, 2018 decision by the US Supreme Court that a federal ban on sports betting was unconstitutional. Since, 11 states or US districts have passed sports betting bills in one form or another, while 29 states have had bills introduced to their state legislatures.

Even though Nevada lost its virtual monopoly on sports betting, the increased media coverage and public interest led to a record turnover at Nevada’s 128 sportsbooks and betting shopos. The $5 billion handle was a record turnover for Nevada, while the $301 million win was also a record for Nevada winnings.

Pennsylvania Has Record Year

Pennsylvania commercial casinos had their best year ever with $3.24 billion. Those numbers should increase in 2019, as sports betting and online gambling have a bigger impact on Pennsylvania commercial casino numbers. Several Pennsylvania casino operators also plan satellite casinos, which should open in 2019 or 2020.

Macua Gaming Numbers

Macau remains the top gambling destination in the world. In 2018, Macau alone had $37.6 billion in gaming, which is 3 & 1/2 times the amount of gaming revenues the second place finisher, Las Vegas, has. At its peak in 2013 — at a time when Las Vegas was near its low ebb in the 21st century — Macau generated seven times the gaming revenue that Las Vegas did.

A 26-month downturn after Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption crackdown has brought Macau closer to the pack, but it still far outstrips any other single city in GGR. Of course, Macau is the only legal commercial casino destination in China, so its $37 billion-plus represents all the commercial casino revenues in China.

That leaves the United States as the leader in commercial casino revenues for 2018.

Tribal Casino Revenues in US

The commercial casino figures in the CDC Gaming Reports study also do not take into account the tribal casino revenues for 2018. While a similar report on tribal casinos’ GGR is not available at present, we can make certain assumptions based on the 2017 tribal casino revenues.

In 2017, tribal casinos’ GGR was $32.4 billion — a 4% increase over the 2016 numbers. With over 480 tribal casinos controlled by over 260 tribes, one can assume the numbers will not fluctuate too much in a year’s time.

If the 4% growth rate continued into 2018, that would add another $1.944 billion to the total. The 2018 numbers would be around $34.344 billion. The combined land-based casino revenues in the United States for 2018 would therefore be in the ballpark of $77 billion in gross gaming revenues.