February 23, 2021

VegasSlotsOnline News Analysis: How a Pandemic Affected Casino Markets Across the Globe

New VegasSlotsOnline News analysis shows that the world's casino operators faced serious challenges throughout 2020 in the wake of COVID-19. Key takeaways:

  • Revenue fell 31% for US casinos, 79% in Macau, 33% for Europe land-based gaming
  • Nevada, the home of US gambling, saw 2020 gaming revenue plummet as restrictions took effect

Casino Revenue Data

Revenue data from various sources shows that land-based casino revenue loss in the US, Macau, and Europe combined exceeds 50 billion USD in 2020 compared to 2019.

According to the latest American Gaming Association data, total US commercial gaming revenue fell by 31% for the year, to $30bn. Meanwhile, Macau venues posted total revenue of $7.57bn, showing a staggering 79% year-on-year decline. Overall, the market was down $28.93bn, dwarfing US total losses.

Europe's operators seemingly fared best out of the three markets, losing an estimated $10.6bn from 2019 levels. Still, EGBA projections for 2020 land-based gaming revenue indicate a considerable 33% year-on-year drop.

Vegas an indicator of US struggles

In Las Vegas, the impact of the March casino closures became evident as Nevada posted its worst full-year GGR since 1996. The Strip saw its worst full month in 27 years last December. Across the US, Pennsylvania gaming revenue fell 22% for 2020, while New Jersey posted a drop of 17%.

There is now hope for a casino market rebound as restrictions gradually lift. Betfred executive Stephen A. Crystal predicts Vegas's return to growth in under two years, while MGM CEO Bill Hornbuckle anticipates a 90% recovery in resort business by 2022.

Cracks widen in Macau

Despite Macau casinos closing for just two weeks in February 2020, they struggled with border restrictions imposed by COVID-19. The region saw only 250,000 visitors in the month after casinos reopened, down 92% year-on-year. Visitor numbers have remained low.

Las Vegas Sands' Macau GGR fell 81% in 2020 to $1.7bn, as MGM's and Wynn Resorts' Macau operations saw full-year declines of 78% and 89%. The gambling hub ended the year with its worst gaming revenue since 2010. JP Morgan analysts predict a return to 2019 gaming revenue levels in Q3 2021, while Morgan Stanley forecasts a return to growth in the full-year revenue of 2022.

UK lockdowns clip casino wings

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the shuttering of casinos in March 2020, with facilities remaining closed for almost five months after the first lockdown. Constant delays to reopening proved expensive for operators across the country, forcing Genting UK to permanently close down casinos and all live poker rooms.

As the region remains under full lockdown conditions, the Betting and Gaming Council has urged the UK government not to exclude casinos from upcoming reopening plans.

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