When we think of casinos in the USA, our minds immediately turn to two places. The Strip in Las Vegas and The New Jersey shore of Atlantic City.
One rises from the desert with bright lights and promises the best time of our lives; the other has its boardwalk, funfair, and sea air. Or maybe your thoughts turn to a riverboat in Louisiana with its floating casinos.
All over the country
Casinos have come a long way since the days of prohibition, and now 44 of the US states offer some form of casino gambling. These include those run by big commercial operators, gambling resorts, and tribal casinos.
However, what casinos do Americans frequent the most? Which locations are now popular with Americans who like to try their chances with Lady Luck?
Casino spend up
It is up to each state what it regulates and prohibits in terms of gambling. From a federal point of view, gambling is legal. Not only is it legal – but it is also very profitable and growing.
In 2021 the gross gaming revenue was almost $53 billion. This was up significantly from 2020. In fairness, land-based casino revenue in 2020 was massively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, online casino and sports betting operators benefited at this time, and people continue to enjoy this option.
However, online casino gambling is only allowed in a handful of US states. These are Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Michigan, West Virginia, and Connecticut.
Commercial and tribal casinos
There are over a thousand bricks and mortar establishments in the USA. Casinos offer gamblers the full experience, including table games like blackjack and roulette, alongside dice and poker.
In addition, they have an extensive range of slots and video slots. In 2021 the number of commercial casinos in the US was four-hundred and sixty-six. Tribal casinos outnumbered these at five hundred and fifteen.
Commercial casino numbers have been in gentle decline since their peak in 2016, when there were 524 establishments.
The number fell sharply in 2017 to four-hundred and sixty, but it has remained relatively static over the last five years.
Tribal casinos, on the other hand, have steadily increased since 2007, with a slight fall in numbers between 2020 and 2021. The industry will need to wait for more data to see if this is a blip or a trend.
Vegas continues to dominate
Las Vegas remains the home of the US gambling industry. Millions of people visit the city each year. While it offers more than just gambling to keep its visitors entertained, the casinos are still the biggest draw.
A survey undertaken in 2021 determined that seventy-three percent of visitors to Las Vegas had gambled while there.
Casino gaming revenue for Nevada was $8.45 billion in 2021, up from $6.75 in 2020. Las Vegas is home to MGM, the world’s leading casino company.
Las Vegas has had decades to establish itself as the gambling capital of the US. It is the self-proclaimed gambling capital of the world.
However, it is facing increasingly stiff competition. While there are many reasons for its phenomenal success, one must be its excellent transport links with California.
In mid-November, Californians will be asked at the polls if they want to legalize sports betting in their state – either at tribal casinos or possibly online.
If this is adopted, it could have a tangible impact on the gambling industry in Las Vegas.
Online gambling on the rise
While Las Vegas remains the number one gambling location in the US, there is another serious contender for the highest gross gambling revenue.
The online gambling market in the US was worth $9.5 billion in 2021, up from $8.7 billion in the previous year; the online gambling market has overtaken Las Vegas in terms of spend.
It could be easy to dismiss this as it applies to the whole country, and Vegas is just one location. However, it does indicate that spending is no longer concentrated in just one place.
Reason to allow online casinos
It is expected that more states will expand access to online gambling. While some states may resist on moral grounds, the opportunity to collect significant revenues is tempting to balance books and bring cash to their coffers.
Online gamblers can do so much more regularly than vacation gamblers. In addition, well-regulated markets provide enhanced consumer protections, allowing residents to gamble at a licensed top US online casino.
Having online casinos conform to state-specific regulations makes residents less likely to risk gambling at unregulated, off-shore establishments.
One in ten adults in the US who played online and in-person games did so once a week, according to data collated for September 2021.
Online casinos popular with younger gamblers
Sports betting was the most popular type of gambling in the US; thirty-two percent of respondents to a survey said they took part in sports betting.
Lotteries were a close second. Thirty-one percent of respondents to the same survey played lottery games both on and offline. Online slots and casino table/card games are also very popular.
It will probably come as no surprise to discover that younger people are more likely to gamble online than older generations.
Twenty-two percent of regular gamblers aged thirty-five to forty-four said they played online slots. This is compared with eleven percent of respondents aged fifty-five and over.