Gambling and Covid-19: What impact can we expect?

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The worldwide lockdowns of 2020 have caused casinos and bookmakers to close their doors and sporting events to be delayed or canceled. Therefore, Covid-19 has already had a significant impact on various forms of gambling, and the future of the gambling industry is looking uncertain. However, seeing as human beings have gambled since Stone Age times, it seems highly unlikely that gambling activity will suddenly drop off the face of the planet. But that does not mean gambling enterprises will not have to change with the times if they want to stay afloat.


The Growth of Online Gambling in the US


In the US, as the novel coronavirus swept through the country and lockdowns were imposed, many people were forced to stay at home, and many businesses were forced to close, including all but two of the 1,000 or so casinos in the country. Of course, that will have had a major negative impact on the casino operators. But it had little impact on casino-goers themselves, as it appears many switched to gambling online. In March 2020, the four US states that have legal online poker sites all reported record-high online revenues. Indeed, the country’s gambling center of Nevada reported an increase of 90% in online revenue compared to the same month from the previous year.


The Global Growth of Online Gambling 


According to a 2020 report by Reportlinker, the global online gambling market is expected to grow to a whopping $95,023.13 million by the end of 2025. Sports Betting is projected to see the highest growth during that forecast period, and mobile devices are predicted to be the devices used most to play online casino games. As the demand for online gambling increases, we are likely to see the emergence of new casino sites, such as, enter the market.


The Growth of Online Gambling in the UK


Since the lockdown was imposed in the United Kingdom, there has been a sharp rise in the number of people gambling online. According to a recent government survey, a quarter of people who generally bet online at least once a week are still doing so, despite the fact that many people in the UK have less money now due to being furloughed from work or losing their jobs entirely. In addition, 28% of those surveyed said they had increased their online gambling activity, and 11% said they were gambling a great deal more. It looks as though people being stuck at home during the lockdown needed to find new forms of entertainment, as the survey also shows that 41% of people who bet had opened a new account with an online gambling platform since the start of the lockdown.


Sports Betting Is Still Going Strong


Despite the absence of sport, the appetite for sports betting is still as strong as it ever was. That is largely due to the emergence of virtual online sports. For example, one online betting site recently enabled people to wager on a virtual soccer match between the Chelsea Pensioners and the Manchester Blues. It might just be a bit of fun for now, and it does not replicate the excitement of a real soccer match, but people have still loved betting on the game, and similar virtual online games, during the lockdown period.


Can gambling businesses survive the lockdowns?


A UK survey called the Coronavirus Impact Business Survey, conducted by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, looked at how businesses are dealing with the Covid-19 lockdowns’ impact. A significant number of companies reported that the lockdowns had completely wiped out their revenue. Out of all the gambling companies surveyed, only two had seen their revenues increase during the lockdown period. However, there was a distinct split in business’s opinions as to whether they would withstand the disruption. Most operators were only surviving because of governmental support, though. Without the furlough scheme, many gambling companies could have gone-under.


It is likely that the rest of the world’s gambling businesses are in a similar position to those in the UK. The lockdowns imposed because of the Covid-19 have had, and are continuing to have, a huge impact on the survival of all types of businesses, so only time will tell whether gambling companies will bounce back. One thing seems certain, while brick-and-mortar casinos may be forced to close around the world, online gamblers are increasing every year, and that trend looks set to continue.


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