New AGA Report On Gaming Revenue Latest Evidence Indiana Needs Online Casinos

Posted on February 18, 2021

Commercial gaming revenue in the US dropped by more than 31% during 2020, according to a new report from the American Gaming Association.

The casino industry racked up $30 billion in revenue throughout the year, which was the lowest mark since 2003.

That decline is largely thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, which took a huge chunk out of the business year. With casinos closed for several months, there just wasn’t enough time to make up that lost revenue.

Almost every state saw its gaming revenue decrease in 2020, including Indiana.

Indiana casino revenue drops

The Hoosier State managed to pull in over $1.7 billion worth of commercial casino gaming revenue in 2020.

However, that was a 7.1% drop compared to 2019’s numbers.

Indiana’s revenue may have decreased, but every state other than New Jersey, Colorado, and South Dakota was in the same boat.

Indiana’s industry didn’t take the kinds of hits that other markets suffered through.

New Mexico, for example, saw its gaming revenue decrease by a whopping 79% in 2020. New York’s numbers dropped by 57%, with Michigans 56% dip in third.

The level of decrease in each state goes hand in hand with when casinos reopened there.

Coronavirus casino closures impacted bottom line

Obviously, casinos can’t make any money if they’re closed.

Unfortunately for the gaming industry, the pandemic forced casinos around the country to shut down for months.

In total, casinos in the US lost about 27% of their normal business days to pandemic closures. The state-specific numbers vary wildly.

Indiana’s casinos shut down from mid-March until mid-June. Those shutdowns axed over 24% of the state’s usual casino business days.

States that waited longer to reopen took the biggest hits to potential business.

Most of New Mexico’s casinos had a brief reopening period last fall before shutting their doors again for a second time. The state missed out on over 79% of its typical casino business days in 2020.

Indiana’s neighbors saw big losses as well. Illinois lost 40% of its casino business days last year, with Michigan even higher at nearly 48%.

The pandemic may have shot the US gaming industry in the foot, but some states were able to hold out better than others. In particular, online casinos acted as a lifeboat for retail locations stuck on pause.

Online casinos boost revenue numbers

Indiana’s gaming industry was caught sitting on its hands when the pandemic was first spreading like wildfire

The state had next to zero gaming revenue coming in from March-June once casinos shut down.

With no casinos, online sports betting became the main source of income for Indiana gaming.

However, with no sports left to bet on thanks to the pandemic, even sports betting had to limp through several months of low numbers. April’s $29 million sports betting handle was Indiana’s lowest month ever.

States that have legal online casinos were able to keep the money flowing during the slow months.

There are only a handful of states with regulated markets, but they all thrived while the pandemic was ravaging retail casinos and sports betting.

Online casinos racked up over $1.6 billion in revenue in 2020 from only four states. That was a 199% increase from 2019’s numbers.

The numbers present a strong case for legalization in states like Indiana that are missing out on that income.

Thankfully, online casinos might be coming to Indiana in 2021. That would allow Hoosiers to play games like blackjack and poker from the comfort and safety of their homes.

There’s a lot of work left to do before legalization becomes a reality, but lawmakers have until late April to push the process along.

If Indiana does end up adding online casinos, it would diversify the state’s gaming industry and help protect against the type of gut punch that COVID gave Indiana in 2020.

Photo by Nazarova Maria |
Jake Garza Avatar
Written by
Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a US Gambling Industry Analyst for Catena Media. He specializes in Midwest sports betting and casino content. Prior to covering the legal gambling industry, he spent time as a professional sports writer, reporting on teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. Garza is currently working as a Managing Editor for PlayIndiana and PlayOhio, with previous stops at other well-known brands such as PlayIllinois and PlayMichigan. He has been covering the gambling industry since 2019, and currently works with a team of other journalists to provide comprehensive coverage of the legal U.S. gambling industry.

View all posts by Jake Garza