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Gaming revenue soars; illegal market ‘biggest threat’

The U.S. gaming industry is flourishing, according to a new AGA report. (Image via Creative Commons)

The American Gaming Association (AGA) released a large amount of data in its annual state of the industry report Feb. 16, analyzing record revenues for 2022 and looking beyond at challenges and opportunities on the horizon.

Bill Miller, AGA president and CEO, said gaming has largely rebounded from the Covid-19 pandemic that shook the industry and 992 U.S. casinos to the core less than three years ago.

“We’re coming off our best year ever,” Miller said during a Feb. 16 webinar prior to the report’s release. “We offer an exciting experience that people want. Our industry is firing on all cylinders.”

Miller said that in 2022, gaming saw an expansion in demographic appeal, a younger average customer (42 years old), and increases in brick-and-mortar, online gaming and sports betting options.

Commercial gaming revenue – which includes traditional casino games, sports betting and iGaming – reached $60.4 billion in 2022, a 13.9% increase over 2021 and a 38.5% increase over the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

The AGA said that total annual U.S. gaming revenue in 2022 would likely end up exceeding $100 billion for the first time, after the National Indian Gaming Commission reports tribal gaming revenue later this year. For context, the number would be on par with annual U.S. beer sales, which hit $100.2 billion in 2021.

Revenue from the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s six Florida casinos is not represented in the AGA report, however Hard Rock casinos outside the state are included. The Seminole Tribe of Florida is the parent entity of Hard Rock International.

Challenges, opportunities

Miller said gaming’s biggest challenge is the illegal and unregulated market – referring to wagers placed by U.S. residents with operators that lack a U.S. gaming license.

“It’s the biggest threat. Half of gambling in the U.S. happens illegally,” Miller said. “[Operators] brazenly ignore the law and present as legitimate operations. We know that Americans overwhelmingly want to play with legal operations.”

Miller said $510 billion is illegally wagered in the U.S. each year, representing $13.3 billion in lost tax revenue. He said the AGA is working with Congress, state attorney generals and U.S. attorneys, state lawmakers and private sector stakeholders to help shut it down.

In addition, Miller said the AGA continues to monitor the U.S. economy, even as 2023 begins with industry momentum.

“Travel and tourism continues to recover,” he said. “Levels are almost at pre-pandemic levels, but we’re keeping our eye on inflation, employment and interest rates.”

The AGA report was largely positive. Each of three major categories – casino slots and table games, sports betting and iGaming – generated individual revenue records in 2022.

Nationwide sports betting revenue soared 72.9% year-over-year, from $4.3 billion in 2021 to $7.5 billion in 2022, as Americans bet $93.2 billion on sports throughout the year. Sports betting accounted for 12.4% of total commercial gaming revenue and is now legal in 36 states and Washington, D.C.

Sports betting in Florida is currently at a standstill due to ongoing legal proceedings. It was paused in November 2021 shortly after the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the state signed a historic gaming compact.

Casino slots and table games generated a combined total of $48 billion, accounting for 79.3% of total commercial gaming revenue, while iGaming totaled $5 billion, accounting for 8.3% of the total.

“In-person gaming remains the backbone of the industry,” the report said.

In 2022, 17 of the 20 highest grossing casinos had gaming revenue growth compared to 2021. Notably for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Hard Rock Northern Indiana saw the largest gain – more than 55% – during the newly renovated property’s first full year of operation.

The AGA advocates for gaming industry priorities. Jim Allen, Seminole Gaming CEO and Hard Rock International chairman, is AGA’s chairman. For more, and to view the full report, go to

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at