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Q1 revenue raises hope for U.S. casinos

First-quarter revenue for commercial casinos in the U.S. has owners and operators optimistic that the industry has begun to wake up from the knockout punch it took from the pandemic.

Commercial gaming revenue surpassed $11 billion in the first quarter of 2021, matching a previous all-time high that was achieved in the third quarter of 2019 – just months before the pandemic forced casinos to close in March of 2020.

The American Gaming Association (AGA), the casino industry’s national trade group, released the figures May 11. Casinos regulated by state gaming compacts and/or the National Indian Gaming Commission are excluded from the report. However, commercial casinos that are owned or operated by tribal gaming companies are included. Seminole Gaming is a member of the AGA.

The first-quarter 2021 revenue total represents a 4.1% increase over the industry’s pre-pandemic performance in the first quarter 2019 and is a 17.7% increase over the first quarter of 2020. In addition, revenue from the first quarter of 2021 is up 21.1% over the fourth quarter of 2020.

The AGA said gains in gaming revenue were largely driven by the industry’s performance in March, the highest grossing revenue month in history for U.S. commercial gaming. More than half of states with commercial casinos saw quarterly gaming revenue increases over the first quarter of 2019, with several states reporting record quarters.

“Today’s report shows gaming’s comeback is ahead of schedule,” AGA president and CEO Bill Miller said in a statement. “Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, our industry has faced numerous challenges head-on while still reopening responsibly and providing a safe, exciting environment for customers.”

Thirty states (including Florida) and the District of Columbia had operational commercial gaming markets in the first quarter of 2021, including casino gaming, sports betting and iGaming. By the end of the first quarter, 454, or 97.8%, of 464 commercial casinos in the U.S. were open. While some states had returned to full capacity, most U.S. casinos were still operating with capacity restrictions ranging from 25% to 75%, according to the AGA.

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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