4 Ways that The Pandemic Impacted the Gambling Industry

by Laura C. Jones
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The COVID-19 pandemic hit most people unexpectedly, and enough parts of the economy stood still for a while. One of the few areas that benefited from lockdowns was online gambling since people were bored and needed something to keep them occupied. While gaming is not everyone’s cup of tea and is actually vilified in many parts of the world, it still has an attraction that only a few things do. It was only normal that non-gamblers became curious and wanted to try it out for fun and real money-making.

Land-based Casinos Closed Down

The hospitality industry was severely affected because it depends on local and international tourists who could not travel for the restrictions placed. This meant businesses had to close their doors and send staff home to prevent the pill-up of bills that would follow the inability to make money. Most land-based casinos have not been able to come back from that since their services are not prioritized by revelers who now have to worry more about the more urgent bills. This closure was a bonus for online sites as they can still attract players who are now too bored at home with nothing more to do but gamble.

Here are things that came out of the pandemic.

More Accounts Registered

When people are bored, they are likely to try new things, which is how more casinos reported new accounts, especially during the total lockdown. It makes sense because they had nothing to do, so anything to pass the time was easy to get into. Dormant players also activated their accounts and started playing for free and real money. The usual gambler stayed real to their trade, so they continued gambling at the same volume even during the pandemic.

Sports Betting Took a Hit

This would be expected since sports betting is based on real-time games and results, and those were halted at the pandemic’s peak. Sportsbooks saw a reduction in the bets, monies wagered, and all activity was affected. It seems this class of players is only keen on sports because some platforms show they didn’t switch to other real money online gambling activities.

Emphasis on Apps and Mobile Gaming

It makes sense that the gambling world would want to perfect mobile gaming now. Players being able to access games through their phones and other mobile devices ensures zero disruption even when they cannot leave their houses. We see apps being developed and perfected, so they work as well as online casino canada players can access. Also, since the future gaming frontier is online, more land-based casinos are developing sites if they hadn’t already.

Governments Considering Legalization

Countries that have already legalized gambling do it to tax the potential incomes. Even for parts of the world where these activities are disallowed, there is that small loophole that allows offshore sites to still offer their services unperturbed, as long as they are licensed and regulated. Those governments are leaving money on the table each time they do that, and the numbers from the lockdown period made them think twice. Criminalizing gambling is supposed to make players shy away from it, effectively reducing the chances of addiction, but that hasn’t been the case. Gamblers still gamble, so administrations are simply losing money to international companies.

How do they remedy this? It is a thin line seeing as people may fall into the habit fully and become unproductive, so the best that could happen is regulation as The Netherlands has been doing. Governments are choosing to become more involved in licensing to prevent gambling organizations from exploiting players. The licensing bodies are demanding more from companies – such as rules preventing players from funding their accounts with credit. It eventually boils down to personal free will, but the governments are also not leaving anything to chance. On the upside, they add a new dependable income stream by taxing gaming companies.

What Does the Future Hold?

Based on speculation, we may see more countries rethinking legalization. We could see more of them legalizing the activity and efforts for licensing and regulation being tougher on home-based and offshore sites. More gaming licensors could be constituted, especially country-based, to complement international bodies.

We expect software developers to keep working on mobile compatibility for more games as currently, not all games are developed on HTML5. There could be a few pandemic-themed slots coming, too, so players are on the lookout. There is not much hope for land-based casinos as long as the economy is still recovering, but they are likely to remain open for tourist purposes.

Conclusion

Has the pandemic encouraged more people to gamble, and is that a bigger problem now than it was a few years ago? Well, the numbers show more people gamble since the beginning of the pandemic for two reasons: they are bored and need entertainment, or they are doing it for income generation.

As always, gambling as a way to make money mostly gets messy and could lead to addiction, and it makes sense that some quarters are concerned. On the flip side, the online gambling industry is still doing a happy dance because the income keeps looking better. As with many things in life, players have to be wise when gaming to avoid addiction. Many online sites have helplines that one should use if they think the habit is getting out of hand.

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