Covid 19 has had a huge effect on many industries and among them the casino business. As people were forced to stay at home their habits changed from one day to another and this has impacted both land-based and online casinos – but in a different light. Lockdown measures were different in different countries so the effects on gambling also differed around the world.
In this article, we are going to examine how did covid-19 change the gambling industry. A Canadian online gaming expert, Michelle Thomas helped us understand the implications online and land-based casino gaming has had.
Digital entertainment is the clear winner of the pandemic. Look at what happened to the price of Netflix stocks, just as an example. As people had to give up hobbies that involve being outdoors, many turned to watching more movies and series, playing video games, and gambling online. These are all hobbies that can be picked up by anyone very easily and are available 24/7.
Online casinos have seen a huge number of new customers signing up on their sites to try their luck in Online Slots, roulette, poker, or any other popular casino games. People who already did have online casino accounts started to play more since they have had so much more time on their hands.
Casinos quickly adapted to the increased need and threw in new promotions for both new and existing players. We have seen a rise in online gambling in Canada too. If you are considering playing casino games don’t forget to read online casino reviews before committing to a casino.
A change in online casino products
But how did covid-19 change casino products? What is more popular now than it was before? The biggest change we have seen is in sports betting. Sports events around the world were universally cancelled but sports betting is a huge business!
In the UK, a huge number of football fans place bets every day while greyhound and horse racing are also extremely popular events to bet on. In Canada, lots of people place bets on ice hockey, American football, and baseball. Now all these events were cancelled, and punters stayed without any betting options.
Virtual sports and esports betting quickly filled in the void though. Even though these betting options have existed before, their popularity grew exponentially. Game producers such as Pragmatic Play and many other big-name developers started to produce virtual sports games that people could bet on.
Now casino gaming and sports betting came even closer to one another than before. There were already sites where you could both play casino games and place bets but now, they started to promote different verticals more heavily.
A site that focused on betting before, started to promote its casino page offering incentives for hard-core bettors. Similarly, sites that were heavy on casino products before quickly included esports or virtual sports betting pages.
Live dealer casino games also became extremely popular. Punters who would visit land-based casinos before got the next best thing by playing live dealer games online.
How did covid-19 change gambling in land-based casinos?
Understandably brick and mortar casinos didn’t fare so well with the pandemic. Establishments that accommodate large crowds were the first to close and the last to re-open during the pandemic.
When land-based casinos had to close, their income turned to zero from one day to another. Some casinos do simultaneously operate an online casino version too and those had a chance to make up for some of the loss. However, most land-based casinos lost all their business.
When the restrictions were gradually lifted, some patrons returned to casinos but still, the business wasn’t the same. In some countries, all catering establishments had to close earlier than before (e.g., at 10 pm).
Other countries had restrictions on food and beverage service and in some places wearing masks was still strictly enforced. These are all put-off factors for gamblers, so the situation was still far away from normal.
The change in problem gambling behaviour
We have seen a change in problem gambling behaviour that was caused by covid-19 as well. While for most people gambling is just a pastime, for others it can become an addiction.
In desperate times people are unfortunately more prone to see gambling as a possible way to make money. Many have lost their jobs and stayed without an income. Some punters who used to play for fun before, now found themself addicted to the games, in the hopes of making some money.
Governments around the world quickly realized how big of a problem this could grow into and in many countries, they banned online gambling advertising. Certain countries outright banned online gaming sites for a certain period to protect people from losing money to online gambling.
Elsewhere, where online gambling is run by the government, monthly loss limits were drastically reduced and physical slot machines, otherwise found in shopping centres, bars, and restaurants were removed.
Sometimes, it is hard to tell if you have a gambling problem or not. Diversifying your hobby can put you on the right track though and can make life more exciting.
What does the future look like?
Online gambling has been growing ever since the first online casino appeared in the late 90s. New products are being developed all the time and they seem to attract more and more people.
For land-based casinos, there is definite hope for the future. Vaccination is going well in Europe, the US, and Canada. Almost 82% of Canada’s eligible population has received at least one dose of the vaccine by now. Bars, restaurants, and casinos are opening their doors again so unless new variants of the virus emerge or vaccines become less effective, casino gambling should go back to previous levels.
Online casinos boomed during the first few months of the pandemic while land-based casinos lost nearly all their business. New casino products emerged to cater to new gambling habits and governments set rules to combat problem gambling that was also on the rise.