COVID-19 ‘most difficult’ challenge ever for casino industry, AGA boss says

A guest plays a slot machine at the reopening of the Bellagio, Thursday, June 4, 2020. Casinos in Nevada were allowed to reopen on Thursday for the first time after temporary closures as a precaution against the coronavirus.

The top official for the American Gaming Association said Thursday that the COVID-19 pandemic is the “most difficult economic challenge” the industry has ever faced.

During a press call, Bill Miller, president and CEO of the association, also lauded the industry’s resilience in the face of the pandemic, which caused the closure of casinos nationwide in the spring.

“Gaming’s record popularity prior to COVID-19, as well as our resilience in the midst of such adversity, is evidence of the industry’s foundation for continued success as we emerge from the pandemic,” Miller said.

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Bill Miller, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association

During the second quarter of this year — the three-month period that ended June 30 — commercial gaming revenues in the U.S. were down 79% when compared to the same period in 2019, according to the association.

In Las Vegas, casinos closed under state mandate from mid-March until early June. Overall, according to the association, casinos nationwide saw declines in almost every vertical during the second quarter when compared with last year.

As of Thursday, about 85% of casinos in the U.S. have reopened after closing earlier this year.

In Las Vegas, only a handful of casino resorts on the Strip remain closed, including the Mirage, the Cromwell and Park MGM.

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