AGA Corner: Year in Review
By Bill Miller
The gaming industry entered 2021 with an uncertain future after enduring the most challenging year in its history. But if 2020 was the most challenging year in industry history, 2021 has been the most remarkable. Uncertainty has turned to optimism, and despite ongoing disruptions from COVID-19, the industry has persevered. And in many ways it has thrived, with 2021 becoming the highest-grossing commercial gaming revenue year of all-time.
The AGA is proud to have helped lead this comeback by delivering against our singular priority for the year: accelerating gaming’s recovery.
A high point for the year, the AGA and our partners at RX convened more than 13,000 gaming professionals in-person by bringing G2E back to Las Vegas for the first time in two years. Not only did the show help set the standard for safely conducting tradeshows and meetings in gaming destinations—a major step for the industry’s recovery—but it also served as a launching pad for innovations and new partnerships that will power gaming’s resurgence for years to come.
The AGA also continued to strengthen gaming’s influence in Washington, D.C. by building industry champions in the Biden administration and on Capitol Hill, including growing the Congressional Gaming Caucus. This progress has helped the industry avoid recovery-slowing policies like new taxes, while also supporting key initiatives like the successful reopening of international travel.
And on a state level, the AGA has successfully advocated for regulatory advances that will allow the industry to grow. Digital payment options in casinos are now available in eight states and in many tribal properties across the country, and as this regulatory shift continues, the industry will be able to better serve modern-day customers that expect payment choice. The AGA has also been focused on curbing the spread of illegal gaming machines and combating the offshore sports betting market, both of which take advantage of consumers and compete with legal operators while skirting taxes and regulation.
Finally, as sports betting expands, the AGA is supporting the sustainable growth of the industry by uniting sports betting stakeholders around responsible gaming. In 2021 alone, our Have A Game Plan.® Bet Responsibly.™ public service campaign has added 16 partners, including sports leagues like the PGA TOUR, teams like the New York Jets and Washington Football Team, media companies, sports betting operators, and more.
These efforts have been essential to accelerating gaming’s recovery and securing a strong future for the industry. And as we look to 2022, we will continue to build on this work while focusing on additional priorities such as highlighting the industry’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts and addressing volume and content concerns related to sports betting advertising.
There is still work to do to accomplish a full recovery for gaming, but looking to 2022, we can expect another great year ahead for this resilient, innovative industry.