2020 began with a series of unfortunate news and has now peaked with the Coronavirus pandemic. In addition to affecting lives, it has also hampered various livelihoods. Offices and businesses have shut their doors to the public for safety reasons, and gaming houses are not left unscathed. Across Canada and the USA, governments have ordered the closure of land-based casinos, including popular gambling destinations like Las Vegas, Montreal, and Ontario. The bustling nature of these businesses draws in large crowds. Such proximity between individuals is strongly advised against by health officials in line with the discoveries about the COVID-19.
The Expected Economic Damage
We have already seen the effects of this epidemic on sports. The F1 world championship has been postponed, the Champions League and Europa League been canceled as well. The Kentucky Derby and the French Open have been moved down to September. The Game Developers Conference scheduled for March 16 did not hold, and the 2020 Olympics has been moved to 2021. Many more events, matches, conferences, and seminars have been canceled, while major tournaments are postponed indefinitely.
Sports contribute largely to gambling revenue around the world. The industry will undoubtedly suffer losses, but experts are concerned about the degree of it. Taking a look at the case of Casinos in China, Macau were shut down in February when the country was still the hardest hit by the Coronavirus. The closure lasted for two weeks, and the major gambling hub of China made just over $385 million. They were able to scale through, but that revenue was a decline of nearly 90% compared to previous years.
The US has become the epicenter of the virus with more confirmed cases than anyone would have ever imagined. Canada has been affected as well, however at a lesser extent than its Southern neighbor. With the heightening of the pandemic, the US and Canada have taken more extreme measures, ordering the closure of casinos for a month or longer.
The Toronto Stock Exchange sees stocks continuously falling for practically all gambling companies, and the American Gaming Association has estimated $21.3 billion in losses if casinos remain closed for 4-8 weeks. If that happens, their last hope for survival may be to request a bailout from the government. Layoffs might follow and it will take a while for the industry to bounce back.
The Shift in Player Behavior
While land-based casinos are dwindling and their fate remains unknown, online casino sites are holding up gamblers' morale. Gamers can continue playing casino slots, table games, card games, and other offerings in quarantine.
A large portion of casino enthusiasts already considered this the more convenient option and with the current situation, the percentage of online betting has skyrocketed. In 2019, estimates placed the number of Canadians who engage in virtual gambling at 18.6 million, and the number is on a steep rise at the moment given the lockdown situation.
Making the best out of the situation, online casino sites try to increase betting opportunities available to the public. There are lines on practically anything that moves to offer the player interesting material, and you can find prospects like whether an event will get place or get canceled. With financial institutions being affected as well, online gambling thrives with cryptocurrency payment methods. They are decentralized and do not involve financial institutions.
Safe gambling is a tune that we hear time and again. In this case, however, the safety in question is not just from a financial point of view but health related. Gatherings are a platform for the spread of the virus, so land-based casinos need to remain closed for a while as a precautionary measure until the situation improves.
This is probably the hardest blow that has ever got the gambling industry. It is worse because it is an unprecedented situation, and there is no solution in sight. Luckily, with online gambling sites, gamers do not cease to experience the thrill of gaming. The fate of land-based casinos depends on whether the pandemic recedes soon or not.