The outbreak of COVID-19 has had a major impact on the gambling industry. The postponement and cancellation of sporting events around the world is an example of the negative impact coronavirus has had on the gambling industry.
You only have to look at the websites of online bookmakers and in the windows of land based bookmakers to understand how much they rely on professional sporting events. With horse racing, football, tennis, cricket, golf greyhounds, darts, basketball, and baseball among those sports stopped due to COVID-19, gambling income streams were severely hit. Thankfully, come July 2020 many of these sports were back in action and full betting markets were available.
Brick and mortar casinos have not been as fortunate and many remain closed to this day. Welcoming people back to a land based casino is not easy due to all of the regulations that have to be followed. However, online casinos did not suffer the same fate and many continue to operate in the same way as they did before the outbreak. In fact, some even saw an increase in the number of people using online casinos. You only have to look at the list of online casinos available to understand what a massive industry online gambling has become. The question is, what is the future of the gambling industry post COVID-19?
In terms of sports betting, the future looks bright considering many of the major events such as the English Premier League and PGA Tour have resumed following the outbreak of COVID-19. These events have taken place without any fans inside the venues but at least it has allowed the bookmakers, both on and offline, to start accepting bets. That being said, there is always the chance of a second outbreak at any point and in any country. You only have to look at the recent examples in the city of Leicester and in Spain to understand how quickly the scenario can change.
The gambling industry will need to consider the possibility of sporting events being cancelled again in the future. For example, it may be worth introducing eSports and casino games to online bookmakers that do not already offer these services. For independent land based bookmakers, now would be a good time to look at offering sports betting services online as they could be asked to close their premises again the future.
Online casinos have the luxury of knowing they can continue to operate even in a lockdown situation. However, the more people are out of work and without a regular income, the less they will have to spend on entertainment. There is a real threat of a big recession which is only going to get worse before it gets better. Gambling is often resilient, even during tough financial times but there is no guarantee that trend will continue as we are dealing with something we have never seen before in our lives.
The gambling industry, much like any other major industry, is having to take things step by step. If the COVID-19 situation continues to improve around the world then hopefully things will begin moving back to normal. If the opposite happens, online gambling websites need to be ready with alternatives to sports betting, such as casino games.