In-person gamblers are driving the US casino market to its best year ever

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Many gamblers say they are happy to be able to visit casinos in person this year after suffering pandemic closures.

“I am not concerned; I’m vaccinated,” said Jeanne Bachard of Bridgeport, Connecticut. “I live by the rule of taking care of myself and not worrying about how other people live their lives. I do what I feel is right for me.

Mike Wolk Sr. of Sewell, New Jersey is fully vaccinated and plays eight hours in a casino poker room once a week. He suffers from diabetes and prostate cancer.

“I’m not wearing a mask but I’m a little concerned,” he said.

Gene Brandon of Ridgefield, Connecticut, said he used to go to the casino twice a month before the pandemic. He has started walking again now that he is vaccinated.

“When I go now, I always mask up to reduce the risk of inadvertently contracting and transmitting to those who are unvaccinated, especially those under 12,” Brandon said.

The association said casinos remain open without capacity restrictions in the 25 states that currently have commercial casinos (those not run by Indian tribes).

Twenty-two of those states saw an increase in gambling revenue in the second quarter compared to the second quarter of 2019, excluding last year’s comparison which is skewed by months of shutdowns. And 19 of 25 states exceeded their totals for the first half of 2019.

Sports betting and internet gambling helped keep the casino industry alive last year when physical casinos were closed. But it’s in-person gambling that’s fueling the industry’s recovery this year.

The AGA said this was due to the easing of COVID-related restrictions, as well as pent-up consumer demand.

Second-quarter sports betting revenue fell 8% from the prior quarter to $889 million, due to a quieter sports schedule.

Internet gambling revenue also had a strong second quarter, hitting a new quarterly revenue record of $901 million, up 15% from the first quarter of 2021.

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