How online gambling saved land-based casinos during the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic took us all by surprise. Few of us had imagined that there was anything that could bring the entire world to a halt, close wall street, and change the way we see society, and each other, forever. But at the start of 2020, this is exactly what happened.

As the novel coronavirus swept through the world, businesses closed, staff was laid off of set to work remotely. Many industries suffered, especially tourism and land-based retail. But what about gambling online and land-based casinos?

The global gambling sector is worth $465.76 billion as of 2020, and it’s forecast to rise to over $516 billion by the end of 2021. Gambling has always been a big business and its popularity continues to rise year on year. The majority of this figure was land-based betting such as betting shops, casinos, slot machines, and lotteries. While the popularity of online gambling was also on an upwards trajectory, it still had a lot of work to do to surpass land-based.

But in the first quarter of 2020, the world’s land-based casinos were forced to shutter. Restrictions related to curbing the spread of the virus meant that betting shops, bingo halls, lottery offices, and of course, casinos could not accept guests or clients. This was a huge and unexpected issue for the sector.

What did it mean for land-based casinos and betting enterprises?

Thankfully, many of the land-based casinos also had an online presence. Due to the boom in interest in online gambling, fuelled by increased smartphone usage and better internet access, many had already taken measures to create online platforms. These online sites typically bear the same branding as the land-based sites, building on decades of customer loyalty and trust. For those that had created apps and websites, it was quite easy to redirect clients to the online platform. For many, having an online platform or two allowed them to keep revenue flowing in throughout the year.

Almost 18 months later, most casinos have or are in the process of opening again. There are however many that are still closed and will likely remain so. These were the unlucky ones unable to adapt to unexpected demands. For one reason or another, they didn’t have, or couldn’t fund an online alternative and lost out as a result. 

How did the online gambling sector react?

The pandemic drove forward a shift away from land-based casinos towards online gambling. This increased revenue in all jurisdictions. Licensed gambling operators saw a big increase in new account signups as well as the amount being spent during each session. This was two-fold; from existing customers spending more time gambling, and from land-based customers moving online.

But when it came to betting, there was another issue. Restrictions meant that most sporting events were cancelled or postponed. This left millions of sports betting fans with little to bet on. Thankfully, eSports and fantasy sports betting were able to plug some of the gaps, giving sports fans another alternative. In fact, eSports has become so popular now, it’s listed on many sports betting sites as well as having a strong stand-alone presence. The industry has well and truly transitioned from the fringe to the mainstream and provides a solid income stream for operators.

Recent statistics on the online sector show a growth rate of at least 11.4% over the next six years. Worth some $66.72 billion at the end of 2020, it will more than double by 2028 to over $158.2 billion.

Within the online market, mobile gambling, sports, and events betting, and live dealer games are some of the most in-demand products. As we move forward, providers that can integrate innovative technology into their offerings will be the ones that succeed.

What about the future for land-based casinos?

Now that mass vaccination is underway, we can expect to see a return to some semblance of normalcy. If things continue in this vein, we will see a balance between land-based casinos and online gambling being restored. This will include land-based gambling leading the way in terms of revenue. But it will also see growth in the online sector as many customers prefer a more digital experience. There will come a day when online overtakes land-based but that is not likely to be for quite a few more years.

What did we advise clients?

During the pandemic, we saw an increase in inquiries for online gambling licenses. Some of these were from land-based casinos, others were from entrepreneurs wanting to open their first betting site. We also saw more requests for information in eSports betting, live dealer casinos, and jurisdictions that allow cryptocurrency betting.

As for what we advised clients, here are some of the tidbits we shared:

  • Always ensure you have an online gambling license
  • Remain compliant with your license during the life of your business
  • Make sure you have an efficient corporate structure to manage your business
  • Offer the best quality, fair, and ethical games
  • Be ethical with your customers, regulators, and third parties
  • Ensure you have a mobile-optimized website
  • Consider an app as well
  • Take payment security seriously
  • Offer a variety of payment options
  • Give your clients what they want
  • Be flexible and adaptable
  • Be honest at all times

Contact Fast Offshore

Fast Offshore can incorporate your company, get you an online gambling license, open your accounts, and take care of all compliance matters. Based on our 23 years (and counting) of experience in the sector, there is no one better placed to assist. If you are an entrepreneur looking to start an online gambling or betting platform, we can help you get the ball (or dice) rolling. To schedule a 30-minute conference to bounce ideas off our highly knowledgeable team, contact us here!

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