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Americans spend a record $53 billion in 2021 on gambling

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2021 set a new record as the highest-grossing year ever for the U.S. commercial gaming industry, reaching $53 billion in revenue, according to the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker. The amounts are 21 percent higher than the previous annual record, set in 2019, and nearly 77 percent higher than 2020, when COVID-19 forced the industry into months-long shutdowns across the country.

Bill Miller, the president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, called 2021 a “remarkable” year during a press conference on 15 February.

Our incredible rate of recovery sets us apart from others in the hospitality sector and the broader economy,” says Miller. “I’m really optimistic about where we’re headed. That optimism is rooted in our industry’s extraordinary recovery, topping $50 billion for the first time ever.

Image credits: American Gaming Association

The Las Vegas Strip is still the leader of gambling in America. Nevada minted more than $7 billion in gross gaming revenue last year, according to the report released on February 14. Atlantic City ranks number two with $2.6 billion in gross gaming revenue and the Chicagoland area comes in third with just over $2 billion.

The numbers do not include online betting in New York state which legalised online betting in January 2022. In less than two months, New Yorkers waged more than $2 billion in online bets bringing $80 million in tax revenue. 23 of the 34 legal gaming jurisdictions, set records for full-year gaming revenue in 2021.

Look at New York or Louisiana—does anybody reasonably think that millions of people just decided to try out sports betting for the first time last month? Of course not,” says Miller on New York and Louisiana. “Americans have been betting on sports as long as they’ve been sports to bet on, they just haven’t had the legal opportunity to do it before. Raising awareness and attracting players to legal sportsbook is how we protect consumers, generate needed tax revenue and stamp out the illegal market,” he was quoted by Forbes.com

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