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How a Pandemic Changed the US Gambling Market

Written by:
Payton
Published on:
Sep/17/2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted nearly every aspect of human life all around the world, and it was not surprising that the gambling industry was not spared. It goes without saying that the activity is enjoyed by millions of people all around the world and since it heavily relies on social interactions to a given extent, the lockdowns and social distancing measures would make it much harder for everything to proceed normally. 

Speaking of normal, it is quite evident by now that the global gambling market will never be the same again. No other place better illustrates this than the United States, which is arguably one of the biggest and most dynamic gambling markets in the world. The pandemic has had far-reaching effects on nearly all gambling verticals in the country, and we are going to look into some of these in a bid to get a glimpse of what the new normal looks like. 

The Surge in Online Gambling Activities 

Unlike most of the other gambling verticals in the United States, online casino gambling actually managed to cruise through the pandemic without taking too much damage. To put this into perspective, many online casinos, such as those found on Casino Sites suffered less financial damage compared to their land-based counterparts. As a matter of fact, some of them even recorded increased traffic as more gamblers shifted to online gambling following the closure of brick-and-mortar gaming facilities across the country. 

While online gambling was already on track to reach a value of over $100 billion by 2025, the surge in traffic and interest has undoubtedly been a big boost for the sector. Thankfully, the existence of robust infrastructure in the form of smartphones and tablets has made everything so accessible that it will not be surprising to see the iGaming sector's valuation increased even further. 

Many of the states that have been reluctant as far as legalizing online casinos is concerned have also begun to see the value of the sector. West Virginia is one of the states that pushed through with the legalization of online casinos during the pandemic, and it is likely that at least a few other states will follow in those footsteps. 

The Impact on Land-Based Casinos 

From the onset, it was pretty apparent that land-based casinos just like many businesses that relied on the physical presence of customers would take a massive hit due to the pandemic. Brick-and-mortar casinos in the United States have since lost millions of dollars in revenue after being forced to close down their businesses. A significant number of casino workers have also lost their jobs after being furloughed following months of uncertainty regarding when things would return to normal. 

Naturally, the state authorities in places like Pennsylvania and New Jersey also missed out on a decent amount of tax revenue. Thankfully, stakeholders began to look into reopening plans, some of which have already been implemented. It is just not clear how long these new rules, guidelines, and measures will stay in place. 

Patrons at the casinos that have since reopened have to adhere to some pretty strict rules as part of the measures put in place to prevent any further spread of the virus. These include limited capacities, social distancing requirements, and routine checks at the entrance of such venues. Perhaps things will change when a vaccine arrives, but for now, this is the new normal. 

Sports Betting in the New Sports Landscape 

The sports betting industry in the United States has grown rapidly since the country's Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting back in 2018. Things were going on so well as several states across the country have already legalized the activity, and then the coronavirus pandemic happened. 

To begin with, all major sporting activities around the world were either postponed or canceled in a bid to contain the pandemic. There cannot be any sports betting activities without any sporting activities. Both online and retail bookmakers felt the pinch in this case, and even though a few sporting activities are beginning to spring back up, the operators are yet to recover fully. 

The return of some sporting activities has been long anticipated, and this can be seen from all the new sports betting activities. It remains to be a lucrative space that very many states are still looking into being a part of. In fact, many states have fast-tracked their plans to legalize sports betting in a bid to capitalize on the post-lockdown return of sporting activities. 

The Rise of Esports, Virtual Sports, and Alternative Sports 

While traditional sports betting took a hit due to the lack of sporting activities to bet on, bookmakers that offered odds on virtual sports and esports suffered less. Both esports and virtual sports were already pretty popular prior to the pandemic, but since they were not hit as hard as traditional sports, they managed to attract even more people, especially those that were looking for viable gaming and entertainment alternatives. 

Virtual sports, including fantasy football and simulated NFL games, are enjoyed by millions of people all across the industry. Esports has become a force to reckon with, and it is already a multi-billion dollar industry that is growing at a relatively fast pace. Betting on both verticals also rose significantly as gamblers found these to be great options in the absence of odds on traditional sports. 

Alternative sports, on the other hand, refers to sporting activities that are not necessarily as popular. Table tennis and ping pong are a few examples. Betting on these activities has also since taken off because they were not as adversely affected by the pandemic. 

Going Forward 

With a recession looming, it is going to be very interesting to see how the gambling industry weathers that storm. However, in as much as some sectors suffered immensely, others like online casinos, esports betting, and virtual sports betting showed some resilience, which perhaps represents their ability to maintain their positions as lucrative investments in the future. Similarly, a lot is being done to bring things back to normal, and we should see significant improvements in both retail casino and bookmaker operations in the near future.

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