A CONSEQUENCE of the coronavirus pandemic that many may have missed is the change it’s had on the gambling industry.
While it may be very low on the list of consequences with deaths in the millions and cases in the hundreds of millions, the lockdowns in many countries have seen people switching from gambling in person to gambling online.
One of the major beneficiaries have been online casinos which have been boosted by the public being stuck at home – while their physical counterparts have been forced to shut up shop for much of the last 18 months, their internet versions have been taking full advantage.
With laptops or smartphones on hand 24/7 and a disposable income for some increased with most entertainment venues closed, the online gambling firms have seen revenues and profits soar, with the businesses who rely on their land-based operation to make money struggling over the past two years.
The question now for the owners of the 150-plus land-based casinos across the UK is whether the customers will return through the door in their numbers.
One firm taking full advantage of the boost in online casino use is 888.com, the company seeing a 52 per cent boost in their revenue for the last financial year. Last month they revealed details of a planned £2.2 billion purchase of William Hill’s European business, with CEO Itai Pazner admitted the firm saw a huge boost in their membership levels during the first lockdown as customers shifted to online betting.
“We welcomed a record number of new members to our brands, nearly one and a half million, with our differentiated products and our big data supporting highly effective marketing. We are pleased with our continued progress in the US, and with three new states set to launch in 2021, we are poised to see the scale benefits of our investments,” said Pazner, the business seeing a 42% jump in membership.
The gaming options offered online far outweigh the physical version. So long as you have decent broadband – check out some of the best and worst mobile and broadband providers – the sportsbooks and UK’s popular casino sites like William Hill or Bet365 can offer thousands of games, slots, blackjack or roulette available any time of day or night, while the land-based casino has dozens of card and roulette tables and, at most, a couple of hundred slot machines, reported postradar.co.uk.
Added to that are the restrictions of opening hours, the hassle involved in getting from your home to your nearest casino – unless of course you can see gambling house from your front window – and the limited chance of really winning big.
There’s normally a story every couple of months or so of a multi-million pound win at an online casino but the really big land-casino wins are usually restricted to Las Vegas visitors.
However, relationships can be built up with staff at the land-based venues, and it would be silly to overlook the social side of a trip to the casino with your mates.
In short, both versions have their place in society and gamblers can choose which they prefer.
It is clear that the iGaming sector has brought a new dimension to the world of the casino user, with a constant expansion offering new platforms and the most up to date technologies. Despite the success online casinos have enjoyed over the last 18 months or so, it is far too simplistic to simply dismiss the land-based alternatives as a relic of the past.
They may offer similar services but they are two very different beasts of the gambling world.