American gaming CEOs remain optimistic, AGA survey finds

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Gambling industry CEOs remain positive about the current business climate despite economic headwinds, according to an American Gaming Association survey released Tuesday.

Most executives surveyed considered the current business climate “good” (68%) or “satisfactory” (28%). The survey found that 98% of executives expect these conditions to improve over the next three-to-six months.

More than one in three CEOs thought future conditions would be better while only 8% thought the corporate environment could get worse.

“I was pleasantly surprised at how positive our members see this outlook,” said AGA VP David Forman in an interview with iGaming Next.  “We see it every month when we put out our commercial gaming data, it’s a record or near record, and each quarter is a record or near record. And we’ve been sitting these records even with all the uncomfortable economic news we see all the time.”

“Everybody keeps asking, as they’ve been asking for two years now, ‘when’s the other shoe gonna drop? And how long could this go on for?’ Forman said. “I think it continues. Plus, we’re seeing pretty solid numbers for August so far.”

The survey received responses from 26 gaming industry executives between Aug. 30 and Sept. 6. Respondents included executives at major international and domestic gaming companies, tribal gaming operators, casino companies, industry equipment providers and sportsbook/iGaming sites.

The survey’s Current Conditions Index found real gaming-related economic activity is relatively stable compared to Q2 2022. The Index indicates gaming-related economic activity has grown at an annualized rate of nearly 5% over the last three quarters.

The survey’s Future Conditions Index was down slightly compared to the Current Conditions Index, indicating that real-gaming economic activity will decrease moderately over the next six months, dropping from 4.9% growth to 4.7%.

While the growth expectations of the Gaming Executive Panel remain positive, the Future Conditions Index is dampened by the current Oxford Economic outlook, which anticipates a mild recession in the first half of 2023, according to the AGA and Fitch Rating, which co-authored the study.

AGA vice president David Forman: “I was pleasantly surprised at how positive our members see this outlook.”

Still, gaming industry stakeholders remain largely bullish on its long-term future.

“I was surprised that so many gaming CEOs think that actually, the business situation is not going to deteriorate a lot for them but in reality, it’s going to get better,” Forman said.

While supply chain issues have eased from earlier this year, two-thirds of gaming CEOs named it as a factor limiting operations (65%), followed by inflation and interest rate concerns (62%), according to the survey. Half of the executives interviewed cities the uncertainty of the economic environment (50%) and shortage of labor (50%) as impediments to business growth.

The gaming industry has largely rebounded from the depths of the pandemic in the second quarter of 2022, when virtually all of the nation’s nearly 1,000 casinos were forced to close down. Las Vegas tourism figures have begun eclipsing pre-pandemic totals, boosted by leisure travel and an increasing return of large-scale conventions.

Online gaming options have also grown during the pandemic. More than 20 states have at least one legal mobile sportsbook and six offer some form of regulated digital casino gaming such as slots or table games.

“Our industry remains cautiously optimistic—and has weathered this volatile economy— because of resilient consumer demand,” said AGA president and CEO Bill Miller in a statement announcing the survey’s results. “Looking ahead, future consumer confidence and spending remain an outstanding question for our continued growth.”

About the author

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Ryan Butler

Ryan is a veteran sports betting and iGaming regulation and breaking news journalist based in the US. A two-time Associated Press Sports Editors award winner, he has reported on sports and politics since 2012. He has covered the gaming industry since 2018. Ryan graduated from the University of Florida with a major in Journalism and a minor in Sport Management.

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