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KUNR Public Radio is a proud partner in the Mountain West News Bureau, a partnership of public media stations that serve Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming. The mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues of the Mountain West.

Sports betting drives growth in gaming revenue

A close-up of a gaming table with a roulette wheel and poker chips.
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Commercial gaming revenue in the U.S. broke records in 2021 at almost $53 billion. That’s 21% higher than the last record in 2019.

For Mountain West states, the revenue change over those two years varies, according to a press release from the American Gaming Association. In and out of the region, many of these gains are due to the legalization of sports betting.

David Forman, senior director of research for the American Gaming Association, said people didn’t just decide to start betting on sports.

“These people have been betting on sports for a long time. They’ve just been forced to do it with an illegal bookie or an unregulated off-shore website,” said Forman.

In the Mountain West, Montana and Arizona helped drive that overall growth. Forman said neither state had commercial gaming before recently adopting sports betting.

Nevada revenue grew by about 12% in that timeframe and generated $13.4 billion in 2021.

Colorado raked in 47% more in 2021 than it did in 2019 — the largest increase in the region— while New Mexico’s gaming revenue went down by about 11%.

Forman said in states where COVID-19 restrictions lingered, like in New Mexico, contraction like this in the industry was evident.

This commercial revenue data from the association does not include tribal gaming.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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