Since COVID-19 was declared a global health emergency on 30 January 2020 by the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), many have suffered. A reported 1.6 billion people have lost their jobs in the formal and informal sectors. The big question is how many jobs will be available after the pandemic, and that question is particularly important for the service industry such as restaurants, small retail shops and leisure business.
This is no different for the gambling industry, with group revenue for the three months leading up to September 30 amounting to $652.2m, down from $819.6m in the corresponding period last year. Food and beverage revenue was down by 64.1% year-on-year in Q3 to $38.8m and 62,000 MGM employees have been furloughed since bars, restaurants and hotels were ordered to close down to stop the disease’s spread. Japans IR tender process which was supposed to take place during January 2021 has been postponed by 9 months minimum.
However, online casinos have been flourishing during the pandemic. Search interests in these sites hitting an all-time high in the UK since the lockdown began, all due to the advancements in technology.
Experts have said that many online casinos have gained a lot of new customers during the lockdown period. Bet365, the most popular virtual casino platform in the UK, saw over 20,500,000 players gaming in April 2020. This shift is due to physical gaming houses shutting down in order to comply with the lockdown restrictions put in place to ensure social distancing and to prevent the spread of the virus.
Newcomers to online casinos also didn’t have much else to do, so they found relief from boredom by trying out online slots and live table games. Regular casino goers looking to satisfy their cravings are visiting online casinos, as well as to improve their gaming skills for when the doors to physical casinos open again. Online casinos offered generous welcome bonuses throughout the virus to try entice new gamers, you can see some of the popular offers from Japanese casinos here.
However, it should be said that these online solaces during the lockdown period have been popular for some years already. Mobile casinos have been around for the better part of a century. Mobile gaming started to become popular in 2006 when Pub Fruity was released. This was the first mobile casino game that allowed players to use real money, which before then, games that allowed that were far and few in-between. It is only quite recently that these mobile casinos have been in such popular demand. It is estimated that 1.6 billion people in the world gamble and last year saw 50% of gamblers using their smartphones to do it. The lockdown during this pandemic provides players with the perfect opportunity to try out gambling on these devices. Laptops and desktop computers are expensive compared to smartphones, especially since the requirements to access these mobile casinos and apps are designed with smartphones in mind. Cellular networks offer uninterrupted internet speed fast enough to play their favorite games, and smartphones need only be charged for about an hour to allow gamblers to indulge in their favorite pastime for hours on end. This allows for people to gamble while maintaining social distancing and staying home to be safe.
Interesting questions have been raised during the lockdown with regards to online casinos and gambling. When the physical casinos finally open and begin operating at full capacity, will people return to them or continue visiting online casinos via their smartphones and laptops in the comfort of their homes? It is difficult to say, but many online casinos offer no deposit free bonuses when registering, such as free spins and games. There are constant daily promotions being run, especially on mobile casinos as that market has untapped potential and companies want as many players as possible. If taken into consideration that there is also vast quantity of games available online compared to physical casinos, it becomes difficult to think of reasons why people would choose to return. Regardless of what happens, online casinos have not suffered during this pandemic and experts say that the customer base for these sites will continue to grow in the foreseeable future. This certainly begs the questions as to whether or not online casinos are the future of gambling, and what does that mean for the economy and workers in that industry?