News Americas, ALBERTA, Canada, Tues. Nov. 17, 2020: The negative impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic has not spared any land-based entertainment and travel business anywhere in the world.
One of the worst affected has been the tourism and travel industry, and those businesses directly or indirectly linked to them. The gambling industry has also suffered severely as the land casinos have been shut for over 6-8 months, and there is no immediate sign of their resuming normal activity. The only gainers in this situation are the online casinos. So, the question on everyone’s minds is, will the online casinos fully takeover the gambling market going ahead?
Governments all over the world have been keen to restart their respective economies after the pandemic brought all activities to a complete halt. However, they have assigned the priorities for resuming. Restaurants could sell food but only for takeaway and not to dine-in. Wherever there’s the threat of a large gathering of people, the governments have denied or delayed the permission to operate. This includes movie theatres and, of course, land-based casinos
Casinos will typically have several people crowding the tables, and it may be difficult for the authorities to monitor if the standard operating procedures are strictly followed or not. The other reason for the casinos to remain shut even now is that the gambling industry is not seen as a priority sector though they do generate huge revenues.. Despite all these, people still gamble, and governments earn revenue.
The casinos themselves may not be very keen on reopening. One reason for this is they may be forced to cut down on the number of people allowed to enter and play games. This will rob the charm of the games. There is already a sense of apprehension among the public, and many are scared they may contract the virus if they went to a casino. With curbs on international and even domestic travel, the number of guests in popular casino towns like Las Vegas would be abysmally low.
The other genuine issue that can be faced by the casinos even if they were to reopen is many people have very little money to survive right now. This is due to massive unemployment and people living on doles.
The ground casinos’ loss has been the online casinos’ gain. Confined to their homes, the compulsive gamblers have taken to playing their favorite games online. There is a difference in the experience one gets from playing in a real casino on the ground and an online casino. However, for the gambling public, it’s a case of ‘something better than nothing.’ and online casinos also has live dealers using video cams. The major sports events of the year have been cancelled, and sports betting is also not available to play for them.
Some reports confirm that online casinos are doing very well during these pandemic days. It cannot be denied that the issue of people not having enough cash in hand to gamble is true for the online casino as well. However, those who can afford to play and those that cannot be kept away from the slot machine or the poker table will never stop playing.
Reports on the activities in online casinos also indicate that there are a lot of people logging in and playing free games on the slot machines. This is understandable for two reasons. One is there may be many people inclined to gamble but are not comfortable with the online version. The other is people have very little to do at home and are more just trying out the online casinos.
This brings to the centre the same question if the online casinos will ultimately take over the gambling industry? This may be a difficult question to answer since things can turnaround in a matter of years, if not in months. Some diehard gamblers-in-person may still be itching to go back to the land casinos, mingle with their fellow gamblers, enjoy the free drink offered by the casino and revel in the sounds around.
You can also presume that those travelling on business or pleasure would still be interested in spending a few hours at the casinos in cities like Vegas, Bangkok, Macau or Ontario.
Despite all these, however, the online casinos may take a large chunk of regular gamblers away from the land casinos. The exact numbers or the percentage of the gambling market that could shift to the online model may be a little difficult to predict at this juncture. Several factors are favoring online casinos now more than ever.
The world has turned digital, and the gambling industry cannot remain unaffected by the developments. The power to transact business and monetary transactions have already reached the hands of the users of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Online casinos allow players to download and play their games on mobile phones too. This makes it very convenient for those gambling to place bets and enjoy the experience.
A simple piece of statistics establishes this fact. It has been found that as many as over 20 million players placed bets on the sports betting website Bet365’s UK online casino. This figure is for April 2020, probably at the peak of the pandemic. However, the increase in online casino traffic is not only in April from April to November onlinecasinos.Net has seen a steady increase in traffic from Canadian players. So figures are still increasing since, in many countries sporting events are being held without the spectators. More people are signing up every day to play on online casinos.
The most important factor that has led to the rapid growth of online gambling has been the ease of access. There are checks and balances in place, so that young boys and girls don’t fall prey to the lure of gambling. There are stringent processes included to verify the age of the player before he or she is allowed to place a bet. There are also rules on withdrawals from online casinos to prevent money laundering.
You can start playing on online casinos with as little as $10 or $20. You can spin the slot machines and try your luck before venturing big on other games like roulette, blackjack, and poker. Most online casinos report that the slot machines attract the maximum numbers of players.
The question of what happens to the land casinos also has to be addressed simultaneously. The business may thrive after all, though the gambling market may turn unequally towards the online casinos. If a parallel has to be found, the movie theatre business can be taken. Watching movies had moved to television and now to smartphones as well. The OTT channels like Netflix and Prime have introduced a whole new genre of entertainment for the masses, with shows produced exclusively for their platforms. Many mainstream movie producers in Hollywood and elsewhere are releasing their movies on these platforms. This is either done parallelly or in preference to the theatres. However, theatres are here still showing movies. Their numbers may have shrunk.
The same may happen to the land casinos. Some of them may shut down permanently under financial stress. Many may run just their hotels and resorts if the business is brisk there and viable. There could be some consolidation taking place, as well. Some of the casinos may be taken over by the ones better placed financially, and the crowds may return to place their bets at the tables.
Another interesting development can take place. The land casino owners like Caesars having their online casinos may shift their focus to the virtual casinos at the cost of their land casinos. This way, it would not be a total business. They would still be in the same business. Those without an online version may launch one and find the mojo.
Once it emerges that online casinos are the future, the competition may become more intense. It will also result in more advanced technology being deployed. The games can become further immersive and attract more players to log in and play.
Such a scenario will be a win-win for all. The online casino owners will laugh their way to the bank, and the gambling public will have multiple options to test their luck quickly through the slots or the other games. The game developers have already flooded the online casinos with games with new themes and integrating movies, and so on.
As the customers demand more, the game developers will come out with additional features and prizes to ensure the interest among the gaming public is sustained. It may yet be a healthy situation for the gaming industry where online casinos may dominate the market. Still, conventional land casinos have not all gone out of business and probably never will.