Gross gaming revenue at US commercial casinos totaled roughly $41.2 billion last year, according to Reno-based market analyst Ken Adams.

gross gaming revenue US casinos

New properties like MGM’s National Harbor were responsible for the lion’s share of the gross gaming revenue surge in 2017. (Image: Baltimore Sun)

In his 2017 Adams Revenue Report, prepared for online gaming media outlet CDC Gaming Reports, the financial analyst says continued casino expansion across the US is responsible for the 3.7 percent year-over-year increase.

Adams pointed to numerous states including New York, Maryland, Kansas, Illinois, and South Dakota, all of which opened new gaming floors in 2017, as the main cause for the massive revenue win.

He added that the nation’s economic growth last year put more money in gambler’s pockets.

“The jobless rate sank and consumer confidence surged,” Adams noted. “It was the preverbal perfect storm and the answer to a gambler’s prayers.”

Should Adams’ calculations be correct, the $41.2 billion would set a new record for US gross gaming revenue in the US. UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research said casinos grossed $40 million in 2016.

The university is expected to release its final tally for 2017 next month.

Expanding Markets Win Big

Adams said that states that added casinos played the most substantial role in growing gross gaming revenues, while jurisdictions that didn’t posted smaller gains.

For instance, Maryland, which benefited from the $1.4 billion MGM National Harbor being in operation for the entire year, saw revenues surge to more than $1.6 billion. That’s about $400 million more, or 33 percent, than the state’s casinos collectively won in 2016. 

Conversely, in New Jersey where Atlantic City remained a seven-casino town throughout the year, gross gaming revenue came in at $2.66 billion, a small 2.2 percent year-over-year gain.

Nevada, by far the largest gaming state in the country, posted a similar increase. Statewide, gross gaming win came in at $11.57 billion, which is 2.8 percent more than the previous year.

Saturation Concerns

Though more money is thought to have been spent inside casinos in 2017 than in any other year in history, Adams’ report highlights the concern that states might be on their way, or already there, to becoming too saturated with gambling venues.

Maryland casinos won more money than ever in 2017, and while National Harbor grew the overall size of the market, it also presumably poached from Maryland Live, previously the state’s biggest gaming revenue generator. Live saw its gross gaming revenue plummet from $653.1 million in 2016, to just $545 million last year, a loss of more than $108 million.

New York added four commercial casinos upstate, and the first three to open, Rivers, Del Lago, and Tioga Downs, all underperformed in terms of forecasted first-year gross gaming revenue projections.

And yet there’s more casinos on the way in the northeast. The $960 million MGM Springfield and $2.4 billion Wynn Boston Harbor are under construction in Massachusetts, and as many as 10 satellite casinos are being auctioned off in Pennsylvania. Connecticut is mulling another casino to fend off MGM.

As for the two gambling capitals of the US, Atlantic City is set to welcome back two casinos this year. And in Sin City, Las Vegas developers are working to finally open the Fontainebleau, and construction continues at Resorts World.