According to The American Gaming Association (AGA), the gambling industry in the US is worth $261 billion and supports 1.8 million jobs in 40 states (1); however, gambling has had a difficult (and illegal) history in the USA and it is just up until now that the path is being cleared.
Several anti-gambling laws have been in place since the great depression and gaming has been heavily regulated ever since. Some of those regulations haven’t been updated since the 60’s. Despite this, the widespread use of the internet (and online casinos) have made the betting scene change notably and laws have started to shift (2).
Today, the industry faces a rapid growth and increased revenue moving away from the stigma it once held, making it easier for people to access online gaming and betting.
Gambling Revenues in the USA
USA gambling revenues increased to over $160 billion in 2018. Now that sports betting is legal, most gaming experts and financial analysts predict the total revenues for US betting each year will top $200 billion. Whether it’s a lottery ticket, slot machines, sports bets, bingo, or poker, Americans love to gamble.
As each year passes, US state governments expand legalized and regulated games of chance, which encourages more gambling. 2018 was no different. Below is a breakdown of the revenue generated by each form of betting each year.
US Gambling Revenues by Category
|INDUSTRY||2017 GROSS REVENUES||2018 GROSS REVENUES|
|Commercial Casinos||$41.2 Billion||$51.4 Billion|
|Tribal Casinos||$31.945 Billion||$32.801 Billion|
|Poker Rooms||$1.9 Billion||$1.9 Billion|
|Lottery Revenues||$80.55 Billion||$72 Billion|
|Legal Bookmaking||$248 Million||$430.6 Million|
|US Online Gambling||$247.5 Million||$306.5 Million|
|Pari-Mutuel||$295 Million||$299 Million|
|Charitable Games/Bingo||$2.15 Billion||$2.1 Billion|
|Total Revenue||$158.54 Billion||$161.24 Billion|
USA Casino Revenues
US commercial casinos generated $41.2 billion in 2017, a 3.7% increase year-to-year from 2016 and a new record for gross gaming revenues for US commercial casinos. New casinos in Maryland and New York added to the increased revenues in 2017. MGM National Harbor in Maryland was the most successful new casinos, but Del Lago Resorts, Rivers Casino, and Resorts World Catskills in New York state also contributed.
USA Casino Revenues: 2018
In all, commercial casinos generated $51,395,562,664 in revenues in 2018. The total represents a 3.5% increase over 2017. Commercial casinos sustained 737,450 jobs and paid $34.334 billion in worker income. The Las Vegas Strip generated $6.59 billion in gaming revenues in 2018, making it the top destination. Atlantic City came in second with $2.51 billion, which shows a strong 5-year bounce back from its $2.1 billion in 2014. Chicagoland, Baltimore-Washington DC, and New York City finished 3rd, 4th, and 5th among commercial casino markets.
USA Tribal Casino Revenues
The National Indian Gaming Council still has not released full tribal casino statistics, so the NIGC’s 2016 gross gaming revenues are the most recent official revenue statistics. In 2016, America’s tribal casinos generated $31.195 million in gross gaming revenues. That is up nearly $1.3 billion from 2015, which itself increased $1.4 billion from 2014. If one projected similar growth year-to-year from 2016 to 2017, one might expect to see gross gaming revenues in the range of $33.3 billion for 2017. To avoid speculation, we list the 2016 official statistics. The NIGC releases the previous year’s figures in June or July each year, so check back for the latest results.
Tribal Casino Revenues: 2018
Tribal casinos generated $32.801 billion in 2018 — a 3.5% increase over 2017. At its current pace, the tribal casino industry should overtake commercial casino revenues by the year 2030. Like the commercial gambling industry, a handful of tribal casinos launched sportsbooks.
The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians opened sports betting at their three land-based casinos, while the Pueblo of Santa Ana opened a sportsbook at Santa Ana Star Casino near Albuquerque, New Mexico. The bookmakers’ success could open the door for many other tribal sportsbooks across the United States.
US Poker Room Revenues
Nevada poker room revenues showed less than 1% growth, as gross gaming revenues were $118.46 million. The 2017 poker rake was $117.7 million. The Nevada figures were a minor miracle, considering that several Nevada poker rooms closed in the past year. MGM Resorts closed the Mirage poker room in February 2017, while the Hard Rock Las Vegas poker room closed in March 2017 and Luxor cardroom closed in May 2017. (The cardrooms for the Linq, Eastside Cannery, The Plaza, and Aliante Casino closed in 2016.)
Atlantic City’s seven poker rooms added $28.38 million in gross gaming revenues in 2017. Pennsylvania’s live poker revenues equaled $60 million. MGM National Harbor in Maryland collected $44.5 million in poker rake alone last year, which was the vast bulk of Maryland poker revenues in 2017. New York’s new live poker rooms, on the other hand, contributed only $6.7 million to the nation’s live poker revenue total. It is difficult to calculate accurately the live poker revenues for America’s 6,100+ live poker rooms. Tribal casinos contain many card rooms and they do not have to report their earnings to states. Thus, it is likely that some poker revenues might be listed under tribal casino statistics.
2018 Poker Room Revenues
Nevada poker rooms increased their total rake from $118.45 million to $120.1 million. On the other hand, Atlantic City poker revenues dropped from $28.38 million in 2017 to $27.028 million in 2018. Pennsylvania’s live poker revenues remained in the $60 million range. MGM National Harbor remained high with over $45 million in poker rake, while the New York state live card rooms continued with a week haul with a little over $7 million in revenues. As always, it’s difficult to gauge total poker revenues, because tribal casinos include their poker rake with their other casino games.
Ultimately, the official US poker room revenues remained steady at $1.9 billion. 2018 showed the US poker industry holding steady after two years of decline. Fewer Las Vegas casinos have card rooms than they did ten years ago, but 2018 did not have any major Vegas poker rooms close. 2016 and 2017 showed a marked decline. MGM Resorts closed the Mirage poker room in February 2017, Hard Rock Las Vegas’s poker room closed in March 2017, and the Luxor cardroom closed in May 2017. In 2016, the cardrooms for The Plaza, the LINQ, Eastside Cannery, and Aliante Casino closed. Still, the United States has over 6,100 poker rooms, so the revenue stream remained steady throughout 2018.
New Jersey Online Gambling Revenues
US online gambling produced $247.5 million in revenues in 2017. New Jersey’s online gambling industry continues to grow. In 2017, the combined revenue of Atlantic City’s online casinos and poker sites was $245 million. That’s a 21% increase from 2016 when New Jersey’s iGaming niche generated $195 million. Delaware added only $2.4 million in online gambling revenues, which was an 18% decline.
Mike Lawton of the Nevada Gaming Control Board said online poker revenues are included in total poker revenues for the state, so it is hard to get official statistics for Nevada online poker. Given the fact, only two Nevada online poker sites exist and state regulators try to hide the small revenue stream, one can assume Nevada’s iPoker stats are tiny. Nevada has about twice the online gamblers as Delaware, so $5 million is a safe assumption. Those poker revenues are not included in our figures, though, because they are included in Nevada’s overall poker stats.
US Lottery Revenues
Like the tribal casino revenues, compiling an official list of lottery revenues takes a bit longer each year, because of the patchwork of state-run lotteries and multistate lottery associations. In 2016, US lottery ticket sales were $80.5 billion. The projected figures for 2017 are expected to exceed $85 billion, due to upticks in the sale of scratchcards and the increases in the Powerball and Mega Millions jackpot sizes. Scratch-off tickets are the biggest contributor, with the Powerball and Mega Millions multi-state lottery association games contributing the second and third-most to the revenue pool.
New York state had the biggest lottery ticket sales, with over $10 billion. California, Florida, Massachusetts, and Texas were next in line. Each of those four states had between $5 billion and $6.5 billion in lottery sales.
Charitable Gaming and Bingo
For generations, charitable bingo halls have generated cash for civic organizations, veterans groups, religious groups, fraternal organizations, firefighters, and other charity organizations. Charitable bingo remains a major focus, but organizations also hold raffles, poker nights, and sell pull-tab games to the public.
As lottery betting and tribal casinos have increased over the past two decades, charitable gaming and bingo participation has decreased in many states. Charitable gaming is a major source of fundraising for nonprofit organizations in the United States. The numbers haven’t declined across the board, as Michigan’s poker nights (millionaires clubs) increased greatly from 2002 to 2012, due to making it easier to attain a charitable gaming license. Even in Michigan, though, the decline since 2012 has been significant. Meanwhile, Minnesota increased its charitable gaming revenues significantly, as part of a plan to fund the Minnesota Vikings’ football stadium.
As the US population has increased in the past 16 years, the number of charitable organizations holding bingo nights and raffles has increased. That means the overall decline in charitable gaming revenues was slight, from $2.2 billion to $2.15 billion, though the decline in revenue-per-venue and real money value due to inflation is stark.
Each US state organizes and regulates charitable gaming in their own way. Groups pays taxes to the states, but otherwise remain coy about their fundraising. Different states have different terms for their games (Millionaire’s clubs, pickle games, fish games), which adds to the confusion. This makes a completely accurate total of charitable gaming revenues more an estimate than an official tally. Charitable gaming revenues stayed in the $2.1 billion range for 2018.