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U.S. casinos won US$66.5B in 2023, their best year ever as gamblers showed no economic fear

Gamblers play slot machines at Harrah's casino in Atlantic City, N.J. on Sept. 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry) Gamblers play slot machines at Harrah's casino in Atlantic City, N.J. on Sept. 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)
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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -

America's commercial casinos won US$66.5 billion from gamblers in 2023, the industry's best year ever, according to figures released by its national trade association Tuesday.

The American Gaming Association said that total was 10 per cent higher than in 2022, which itself was a record-setting year.

When revenue figures from tribal-owned casinos are released separately later this year, they are expected to show that overall casino gambling brought in close to US$110 billion to U.S. casino operators in 2023.

That all happened in a year in which inflation, while receding, still kept things like grocery and energy costs higher than they had been.

“From the traditional casino experience to online options, American adults’ demand for gaming is at an all-time high,” said Bill Miller, the association's president and CEO.

Early last year, when the group gave its annual statistical assessment, “inflation was high, uncertainty was in the air. Forecasters couldn't agree what these challenges might do to discretionary income," Miller said.

As they year went on, “inflation began to cool, consumers began to spend and the (U.S. Federal Reserve) held rates steady,” he added. “The result was a record-breaking year for our industry.”

Not even the pre-holiday shopping crunch discouraged gamblers from laying their money down: casinos won US$6.2 billion in December and US$17.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2023, both of which set records.

Jane Bokunewicz, director of the Lloyd Levenson Institute at New Jersey's Stockton University, which studies the gambling industry, said sports betting is still new enough that it may prove attractive even to those watching their budgets.

“As a form of entertainment, legal sports betting might be a new and novel experience for many patrons, and with its relatively low cost of entry, may be attractive to them even if their discretionary spending budget is limited,” she said.

In-person gambling remains the bread and butter of the industry. Slot machines brought in US$35.51 billion in 2023, an increase of 3.8 per cent from the previous year. Table games brought in US$10.31 billion, up 3.5 per cent.

Sports betting generated US$10.92 billion in revenue, up 44.5 per cent. Americans legally wagered US$119.84 billion on sports, up 27.8 per cent from the previous year.

Five new sports betting markets that became operational in 2023 — Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska and Ohio — contributed to that and generated a combined US$1.49 billion in revenue.

By the end of the year, Massachusetts and Ohio established themselves among the country’s top 10 sports betting states by revenue, New Jersey and Illinois exceeded US$1 billion in annual sports betting revenue for the first time, and New York topped all states with US$1.69 billion.

Internet gambling generated US$6.17 billion, up 22.9 per cent. While Michigan and New Jersey each generated US$1.92 billion in annual internet gambling revenue, Michigan outperformed New Jersey by just US$115,500 to become the largest internet gambling market in the country. Pennsylvania was third with US$1.74 billion in annual revenue.

Other states offering internet gambling are Connecticut, West Virginia and Delaware; Nevada offers online poker only.

Casinos paid an estimated US$14.42 billion in gambling taxes last year, up 9.7 per cent from the previous year.

Nevada remains the nation's top gambling market, with US$15.5 billion in revenue. Pennsylvania is second at US$5.86 billion, followed closely by Atlantic City at US$5.77 billion.

New York is fourth at US$4.71 billion, followed by Michigan at US$3.58 billion; Ohio at US$3.31 billion; Indiana at US$2.82 billion; Louisiana at US$2.69 billion and Illinois at US$2.52 billion.

New York's Resorts World casino reclaimed the title as the top-performing U.S. casino outside Nevada. It was followed by MGM National Harbor near Washington, D.C., Encore Boston Harbor and Atlantic City's Borgata.

Of the 35 states that have commercial casinos, 31 saw revenue increase last year.

Jurisdictions where revenue declined were Florida (-0.4 per cent); Indiana (-2.3 per cent) and Mississippi (-3.5 per cent). The sports betting-only market of Washington, D.C., had a more significant decline, with revenue trailing 2022 by 17.6 per cent, the largest drop in the country.

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