In the wake of the COVID 19 outbreak, many industries are facing tough times ahead. We’ve already witnessed the devastating effect this virus has had on the travel and tourism industry. Restaurants, bars, clubs, cinemas, hotels, cruise liners and airlines have all been hit hard, and as the work dries up many people are being laid off and sent home. One of the only industries largely unaffected is the online gambling industry – in fact, casino sites are currently experiencing a boom in trade thanks to the number of people now stuck behind closed doors. As more and more people are being urged to self-isolate, the demand for digital entertainment is rising. And the need for excitement is at least somewhat fulfilled by risking a few pennies on a slot game. Luckily for UK players, there are plenty of excellent casino sites available to them that are fully licenced and regulated.
Land-Based Casinos Losing Customers
However, we can’t help but wonder what the future holds for gambling enterprises, both online and offline. COVID 19 is already having a significant effect on the betting landscape and while casino websites may be thriving for now, there’s no telling how long this will last. Land-based casinos around the world have already experienced a huge drop in revenue due to the effect of travel bans and social distancing. The mega resort casinos in Las Vegas have seen a drop in the number of visitors and those numbers look set to drop even further as the virus continues to spread. Measures are in place to try and thwart the threat of contagion, such as checking for fever before allowing guests to enter, increased cleaning schedules, and most recently, according to CNN, a ban on food buffets. However, as fear of the virus grows, more Americans will embrace the idea of the staycation. Bad news for resorts, good news for casino sites.
Casinos in Macau were forced to shut down for 3 weeks in February but have since opened their doors, albeit with strict limits on how many people can enter a casino at any one time and a limit of how many gamblers can sit at a gaming table. Wynn Resorts, MGM Resorts and Las Vegas Sands reportedly lost up to 2 million dollars per day during the shutdown, amounting to an 88% drop in profits compared to the same period of time last year. And their revenue since reopening has dropped significantly. Many industry insiders are predicting that these huge, land-based casino enterprises will now be pushing to get a piece of the online pie.
A Push for Online Outlets in Asia
Laws throughout Asia currently restrict citizens from gambling online. A change in attitude towards online gambling in China, for example, would mean that Chinese citizens would no longer need to travel in order to enjoy casino games. If Macau’s land-based casinos launched their own casino sites with government approval, Chinese gamblers could have access to licenced and regulated casino sites and the government would gain through an increase in Tax revenue. The UK Government was quick to see the potential of a regulated and taxable gambling industry had thanks to this foresight the UK economy has reaped huge rewards. Canada has made allowances for online gambling and the USA is currently in the process of opening up more and more avenues for gambling from home.
A Change in UK Betting Habits
In these tumultuous times, staying indoors and away from people is fast becoming the only hope of stemming the flow of contagion. Gambling online is, of course, the far safer course of action than gambling in a crowded casino. And as countries throughout Europe implement total lock-down procedures, gamblers will no longer even have the choice. As previously mentioned, luckily there are plenty of excellent online UK casino sites. However, as we’ve also mentioned, the landscape of betting is changing. You can still go online and find you’re your favourite slot games and RNG table games, you can still participate in online tournaments and compete in leaderboard challenges, but how long you will be able to play live games will depend on whether or not NetEnt and Evolution Gaming studios will be able to continue production. One of the biggest changes that is already happening is in the world of sports betting. Sporting events throughout the world are being postponed or cancelled at an alarming rate. With no sporting events to bet on, sports fans are looking elsewhere for betting opportunities.
One avenue is eSports. eSports are played online and therefore do not require participants to come in to contact with one another. These games are big money events, the best payers have become stars in their own right and the tournaments attract huge audiences. With more punters betting on the outcomes of these games, eSports is sure to get even bigger. We’re also seeing increased betting on more random events, such as awards shows, elections and whether or not China will beat America in the race for a COVID 19 vaccine.
An Uncertain Future
For now, it seems the casino websites are withstanding the COVID 19 storm and actually benefiting from it, but will it last? In all likelihood, the online gambling industry will soon start to experience a drop in revenue because punters will simply no longer be able to afford to spend money on frivolous pursuits, especially ones that could see them lose money. The sheer number of people employed by the travel and tourism industry that will soon be out of a job and reliant on government aid is frightening. This will, of course, have a knock-on effect throughout the UK economy. If people aren’t making money in one sector, then they’re not spending money in other sectors, which means that eventually people are going to have to tighten their belts across the board. How long this will go on for is anyone’s guess.
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