iGaming, Betting, and The Aftermath of COVID-19

iGaming, Betting, and The Aftermath of COVID-19

Abhinav Raj / Writer
June 1, 2021 3 min read

Here’s a look into the impact of COVID-19 on the online gambling industry.

The 2020 coronavirus pandemic bought a surge of unprecedented changes in our lifestyle—changing the way we worked, interacted with others, and spent our time and money. 

On March 23, 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the first lockdown across the UK to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. This caused the closure of a swathe of businesses across the nation, changing the economy for months and in some sectors, even years to come. 

Naturally, there was hardly any industry that remained untouched from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic repercussions. The pandemic led to the closure of popular gambling venues including casinos, bingo halls, lottery outlets and leisure spots like bars and breweries where you’d head to after scoring a sizeable win. 

As anticipated, the impact of the pandemic hasn’t been uniform across industries. While the on-venue gambling business took a hit, the online gambling industry boomed. Here’s why. 

Lockdowns and travel restrictions compelled the global workforce to retreat to their safe havens, and subsequently, screen time went up dramatically. The pandemic increased the reliance on digital technology, not just for work and collaboration, but also for staying in touch with friends, engaging with family and even for entertainment—like binging content on Netflix and browsing for the next TV show to get hooked to. 

Improvise, Adapt, Overcome?

As entertainment expanded on the digital frontier, online gaming erupted. Gaming fulfilled the requirement of what the everyday life in a lockdown lacked—social engagement and a momentary escape from real life. 

Casino-goers scoured for alternatives on the web, and those who hadn’t ever tried their luck signed up for the thrill. 

“The pandemic and the lockdown that followed led to a sudden surge in visitors to casino and gambling websites”, reports Research And Markets in a November 2020 article. 

“Many online casino sites found new subscribers, while the regular players also made it a point to play online, marking a paradigm shift in the way the traditional gambling industry used to function.”

With lockdowns affecting popular sporting events, COVID-19 compelled sportsbooks in the business to improvise. Sports gambling websites adapted to the flurry of changes in the betting landscape by introducing games you’d normally expect to play in the setting of a casino—including scratch cards, live dealers, poker, bingo and slot machines to choose from.

Avid sports gamblers took to betting on fantasy video sports and eSports. Wagers were placed on eSports tournaments in lieu of live events. An unprecedented situation led to unprecedented improvisations, and gamblers and sportsbooks were pleased. 

The numbers never looked better. According to data from Grand View Research, the global online gambling market is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 11.5% from 2020 to 2027.

The online betting industry is another one of the notable exceptions in the industry that has enjoyed success in the era of COVID-19. As internet penetration, cultural approval, popular endorsement and government legalization fuel the growth of the betting market, steady growth is on the horizon for online betting, and by extension—the industry.

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