Online Gambling Growth During COVID-19

There has been a perfect storm brewing that has turned online gambling into one of the most trending activities on the planet.
The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted commercial gambling in jurisdictions around the world. Numerous land-based gambling venues such as casinos, bingo halls, horseracing tracks, bars and clubs with electronic gambling machines (EGMs), lottery retailers, betting shops and poker rooms were forced to close, in particular during the first phase ‘lockdown’ in March and April 2020. Since the initial lockdown, some venues re-opened fully or in a modified fashion, some remain open and others have closed during the second wave restrictions. Like the course of the pandemic itself, the future availability of gambling is unknown and unpredictable. This paper reviews evidence to date on the impact on individuals of these effects.

At the same time that land-based gambling accessibility decreased, online gambling sites continued to operate. Some media reports indicated that business had, in fact, flourished and that the pandemic served to promote this increasingly popular gambling format. Online gambling sites typically include the full range of types of gambling, including lottery ticket sales, casino table games such a roulette, blackjack and craps, slot machines, online poker and sports betting. With the exception of sports betting, which was affected by the cessation or reduction of professional sports worldwide, all other types have been continuously available from both legally regulated and unregulated site operators. Some jurisdictions, however, have taken steps such as limiting advertising and imposing a daily betting cap to minimize potential harms during the pandemic.

How the Pandemic Has Fueled Online Gambling

As most people were literally left to their own devices during COVID-19 related lockdowns, many began engaging with technology in different new ways. Recent reports show that online gambling services have exploded in popularity, which could lead to a subsequent increase in gambling addiction.
The implementation of COVID-19 related lockdowns worldwide corresponded with a dramatic increase in many people’s screen time. While swiping the long hours away can help alleviate some of the restlessness and anxiety that comes from being stuck at home, it also increases exposure to heavily marketed goods and services, including online gambling. Some countries have noted that bookmakers increased advertising on websites and social media to lure in potential customers, which can be problematic for those struggling with a gambling addiction, or those simply suffering from boredom and looking for a way to kill time. 

In the UK alone, it is estimated around 350,000 are affected by gambling addiction, with as many as 160,000 affected in Australia. Though a few countries such as Belgium, Spain and Latvia have imposed some restrictions on online gambling in order to try and curb addiction during the lockdowns, the majority of these services remain easily accessible and highly tempting. This poses a serious risk for an uptick in gambling addictions during the pandemic.   

Online Gambling Market

The COVID-19 pandemic positively impacted the market, as consumers turned more toward the online platform to bridge their financial, social, and psychological crises during lockdowns. With the COVID-19 outbreak, the demand for internet-based gambling worldwide increased due to the sudden shutdown of educational institutions and the rising adoption of the work-from-home culture. Several operators went digital in response to the closure of many gambling establishments. Many players expanded their online gambling offerings, and bingo operators moved their offerings online, positively impacting the market.

Casinos worldwide are predicted to have huge success due to the multi-layer taxation environment in the business. The rising trend for remote gambling is boosting the growth of the online betting market. The number of female consumers in casinos is also rising. The cashless mode of payment is more convenient for consumers, which is driving the online gambling market. Furthermore, various companies are concentrating on the advancement of innovative platforms to cater to several requirements and needs of the customers to achieve a competitive edge in the market.

Online gambling companies are significantly growing with their sports betting options, as it was legalized in the United States by the Supreme Court in 2018, which is boosting the market. For instance, in 2021, Entain PLC declared the launch of Gambling Responsibly America in the United States, a trustworthy gaming app. This app has a tool to assist and support consumers. It also has educational resources to help consumers if they face any gambling issues. In the Netherlands, the government proposed the latest regulation in July 2020, which modernizes the outdated gambling law that offers extra tax revenue and effective prevention against addiction and ensures only fair games, which are offered to around 2 million players among the Dutch public.

Will online gaming and betting remain popular post-COVID

As we’ve seen with many industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the ways we interact, both in and out of the workplace. A continued reluctance to enter physical premises and the discovery of the ease of betting online makes it unlikely that people will patronage betting shops as regularly as they did in pre-pandemic times. 

The reopening of Casinos, however, is a different story as many seasoned casino goers will be excited to get back to the poker tables and slot machines. But this doesn’t mean that people will abandon online gaming and betting sites. The ease of access and diversity of the games that people can play will continue to be attractive to those customers that became players during COVID restrictions. 

What is also worth noting is the return of sports fixtures and events around the world. With restrictions and lockdowns causing matches and competitions to be postponed, sports betting companies took a massive blow during 2020. But with the return of competitions like the English football Premier League and horse racing events like Royal Ascot, sports betting companies will have seen a resurgence in bets over 2021 and is something that is predicted to return to pre-covid levels in 2022.  

As the global online market report highlighted, betting companies that run Online Casinos have done well during the COVID-19 pandemic but those that struggled over the past year, like sports betting companies, are expected to return to the levels of growth they saw pre-pandemic. All of this suggests a very positive outlook for the future of online gaming and betting. 

If you are considering getting involved or are already an online gaming and betting enthusiast, the security of your funds and the ease of withdrawing your winnings will be of paramount importance. You need to give careful consideration to how to fund and potentially benefit from your activities. Using a credit or debit card exposes your cards to sophisticated hackers looking to harvest such data. A much more secure and convenient solution is to use an e-payment wallet, such as STICPAY, that also provides benefits such as offering cashback on transactions.

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