US gambling industry recovers in third quarter but challenge remains 

By Ethan Anderson Updated
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The United States gambling industry is recovering from months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic but has regained 81 per cent of its revenue in the third quarter.

The casinos’ trade association said the recovery is threatened in places as the virus continues to surge throughout the country.

Last Sunday night, Michigan’s governor ordered numerous businesses, including casinos, to shut for three weeks and Atlantic City’s top casino last week laid off or cut the hours of 422 workers in response to restrictions imposed by New Jersey’s governor.

Also last Sunday, Washington’s governor banned indoor service at bars and restaurants, according to ABC News.

The American Gaming Association released a report on gambling revenue at the nation’s casinos during the third quarter of this year, the time when most casinos reopened after four months or more of being shuttered during the first wave of the virus outbreak.

It found the industry won over $9 billion in the third quarter, which is 81 per cent of the amount ir won during the same period last year when casinos were operating normally.

Casinos operate with restrictions but some post handy profits 

Virtually all casinos in the United States are operating with some restrictions on the amount of people they can accommodate and the type of operations they can conduct amid the pandemic.

The report found that nationwide gambling revenue is down 36.5 per cent in the first nine months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2019.

“Our industry continues to prioritise the health and safety of our employees, customers and communities above all else,” Bill Miller, the association’s president and chief executive said.

“While these quarterly results are promising, the reality is a full recovery is dependent on continued public health measures to control prevalence rates of the virus”.

President of Atlantic City’s Tropicana Casino Jacqueline Grace said she is not surprised the industry has regained as much of its previous revenue as it did in the third quarter.

“People are looking for opportunities to escape what is happening around us,” she said.

“Coming to a casino is entertainment, and people still want to be entertained.”

Grace said one of the biggest challenges the industry is facing is “the continued uncertainty.”

“You have to ensure compliance, whether it’s your team members or your customers,” she said.

“That’s a new aspect of the job.”

In a recent conference call to discuss third quarter earnings, Bill Hornbuckle, president and chief executive of MGM Resorts International, said the industry continues to deal with the pandemic and has been forced to abide by restrictions.

But he also said September “was an exceptional booking month for the future. It’s the best booking months we’ve had in seven. And so I think that shows people are still booking into the future.”

The report said more than 100 casinos reopened between July and September with 902 commercial and tribal casinos operational by the end of the third quarter.

Five states actually won more in the third quarter this year than the same period last year: Arkansas up three per cent, Mississippi up 2.8 per cent, Ohio up 7.5 per cent, Pennsylvania up 3.8 per cent and South Dakota up 6.1 per cent.

Revenue from poker machines was $5.87 billion for the quarter, down 19.3 per cent and table game revenue was $1.57 billion, down 31.2 per cent.

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