By a Biometrica staffer
Over the last couple of weeks, the American Gaming Association (AGA) and various states have been releasing their casino and gaming revenue figures for April–June 2021. According to the AGA’s tracker, 17 out of 25 states saw a rise in traditional gaming revenue in Q2 2021, compared to the Q2 2019 pre-pandemic benchmark. In certain states, “spend levels remain well above pre-pandemic levels,” the AGA said.
In addition, 17 out of 25 states also set quarterly gaming revenue records last quarter. This included Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, all of which were among the top-ten highest-grossing states in all of 2019.
Here’s is a round-up of some of the latest news out of the gaming world.
At the first Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association (OIGA) conference held in two years, it was announced that the tribal gaming industry in Oklahoma generated a record-setting $167 million in revenue for the state the last fiscal year through exclusivity fees.
Attendees considered this a strong indicator of the industry’s bounce-back after all tribal casinos in the state were forced to shut down last March due to the pandemic. Nearly every one of Oklahoma’s 39 tribes have some type of gaming facility, including bingo halls and full-fledged casinos with slot machines and table games.
Between 2020 and 2021, the revenues earned by the state increased by more than 35%. The state’s tribal-owned casinos are a major source of revenue, both for the tribes and for the state, who rely on this money to provide essential services. Under the compact approved in 2004, the state takes a 4–6% cut of all revenue collected through machines, and a 10% cut from table games earnings.
Meanwhile, lawmakers and industry leaders in the state are also calling for the legalization of sports betting, arguing that right now Oklahoma is losing valuable dollars to neighbouring states, foreign entities, or to the black market. Matthew Morgan of the OIGA said that illegal betting is cutting off a source of revenue for the tribes. Currently, four states that border Oklahoma have legal sports betting in some avatar.
The Louisiana Gaming Control Board on Thursday, Aug. 19, approved emergency rules to kick-start sports betting in the state as early as mid-September, just in time for the latest NFL season to begin. Per these emergency rules, some of the state’s Big 20 riverboat and land-based casinos and racetracks will be allowed to start applying for licenses as early as next week, though it will likely take a few weeks for the applications to be approved.
The emergency measure was taken due to complaints from the state’s casino operators that they were losing out on revenue to neighboring Mississippi, where sports betting has been legal for two years now.
Similarly, North Carolina also took a significant step in legalizing online and in-person wagers on professional, college, electronic, and amateur sports yesterday, Aug. 19. The State Senate passed SB 688 in a largely bipartisan 26–19 vote, and sent the bill to the House for approval.
Supporters say that the bill will bring in significant amounts of money that will be directed towards education and other social-benefit programs. Much like in other states, there is a feeling among lawmakers and casino operators that illegal gambling on sports is already occurring within the state, and that by legalizing sports betting, the state would be able to regulate the activity and direct resources to areas in dire need. Some estimates suggest that revenue from sports betting could be anywhere between $8 million and $24 million annually.
Massachusetts’ two resort casinos and only slots parlor brought in $95.74 million in July, the state’s gaming commission announced this week. The revenue earned by the state from taxes and fees resulted in a record figure of $27 million. Industry watchers say that going off historic monthly averages, if the pace is maintained, the state could see as much as $259.5 million in average annual gaming revenue this year. Since
Separately, after the Gaming Commission last month reported a tenfold increase in the number of complaints they were getting about the absence of poker in the state’s casinos, the MGM Springfield has announced that it will bring back poker to its floors by Q4 this year.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, last year the Commission had banned poker to limit the spread of the virus. Massachusetts casinos kept that ban in place after rules were eased earlier this year. MGM Springfield said, however, that their poker capacity will be reduced to around 10–12 tables instead of the previous 28, keeping the safety of patrons in mind.