The Director-General of WHO (The World Health Organization) declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern over the outbreak of Coronavirus (or Covid-19) on January 30th 2020. By the third week of March, lockdowns were taking place across the US affecting all industries including traditional and online casinos.
Over the next few months, all sorts of online casinos and restaurants had to shut doors. This has had an unprecedented effect in modern times on the whole world. Financially catastrophic for many individuals and businesses alike.
Casinos have not been unscathed either. They remain subject to social distancing rules. People are still unwilling to travel or share space with strangers. How has this affected the gaming industry as a whole?
Traditional casino and bookmakers during and after lockdown
Las Vegas closed the doors to their famous, glitzy casinos for eleven weeks and created a ghost town. Tens of thousands of people lost their jobs as non-essential businesses were told to close and the strip ground to a halt.
In the UK William Hill announced it would close 119 of it’s betting shops due to the financial damage caused by Covid-19. It’s revenues dropped by one third in 2020 as of August.
Sporting events were cancelled all over the world. Traditionally betting shops would be used mainly for horse racing and football. Apart from this, it was done in other events such as dog racing, boxing, golf and snooker. With none or few of these match-ups, there was nothing to gamble on. the reason behind this was the lockdown and social distancing.
Visitors to Las Vegas disappeared during the lockdown
Not surprisingly numbers dropped dramatically during the first two quarters of 2020. Although it is hard to find figures on actual revenues. Not surprisingly, the casinos are not too willing to reveal all the financial information just yet there are some statistics on numbers of visitors.
It has been reported that there have been 90% fewer visitors in 2020 than normal. If other visitor figures are to be believed it is even more shocking when laid out as numbers. In February there were 3.5 million visitors to Las Vegas. Once Covid-19 bit and people were too worried or sensible to travel far the numbers started dropping dramatically. In March there were 1.5 million visitors, then the lockdown came in and in May there were only 150,000 visitors. You don’t need to be a financial genius to see how that would affect nearly every business in Las Vegas.
Reopening of land-based casinos
Casinos in Nevada are allowed to open at a reduced capacity and with stringent health control. Face masks must be in place, staff and customers must socially distance and they can only operate at 50%.
Since the casinos re-opened the daily new cases recorded for coronavirus went from 100 a day to 1,000. Whether this has anything to do with the casinos is a matter for the appropriate channels to investigate but a sudden influx of visitors from all over the country, some of whom may not follow safety and health advice is going to be something the casinos will need to control if they are to stay open and provide a safe entertainment venue.
Online casinos and gambling during Covid-19
Covid-19 affected the online casino world too but not in a negative way. With people all over the country stuck at home with little to do, many gamblers would have to turn to their favorite casino online. Every year online gaming has taken a slightly bigger piece of the market share and this year it would be fair to say it will have taken a big chunk. How much has this year affected the online market?
Overall the gambling industry has suffered from revenues dropping. Some experts believe it may fall back to somewhere around 2016’s total revenue and may take some time to bounce back if ever. While the total revenues dropped the online market became very popular. In the UK there were more searches for online casinos during the lockdown than ever before. This led to changes in legislation to protect problem gamblers. Credit cards are no longer allowed to be used online in the UK for gambling and this also means PayPal, Skrill and Neteller e-wallets cannot be used as they allow credit cards to load cash on for gambling purposes.
Online casinos with bingo grew
Bingo halls were one of the few areas of the gambling industry that were not growing. Indeed many halls keep closing down each year. During the lockdown, however, many people started to search out online bingo to get their fix. Bingo is one of those games where there is a certain social element to it. You get to see familiar faces in the hall and have a bit of a chat. Most bingo games online are aware of this and add chat room options in.
Sign-on bonuses with online casinos
The always competitive online kaszino industry has always offered free spins, bonuses and sign up cash for new players but it seems these are getting more prominent and bigger and bolder. These companies are desperately seeking all the new players they can find with more aggressive marketing.
Unemployment after coronavirus
One of the biggest changes to the gambling industry is going to be simply a lack of readily available cash. More than 14 million Americans become unemployed as a direct result of the pandemic. People’s priorities are much simpler and for most, they don’t include going to the casino.
What can you expect from the future?
It is not easy to predict but traditional casinos may need to diversify a little more. They may become more streamlined and perhaps a few less of them. Betting shops will always be in demand. if not shops, there re online ways of betting that helps in the betting industry to grow.