Monday, January 17, 2022

Impact of COVID-19 on the Casino Industry

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According to the American Gaming Association or AGA, revenue from casino gaming in the United States is down by 31% in 2020 compared to the previous year. This is the first time since 2003 the US gaming industry has seen a fall.

It is much the same elsewhere too. The physical casinos have suffered immensely because of the pandemic throughout the world in Singapore, South Africa, and all over Europe.

Cotton mask for COVID
By praditkhorn somboonsa/ Shutterstock

COVID-19 has affected all businesses negatively. But probably, no other business has been so severely affected as the hospitality and entertainment segments. Many hotels and tourist resorts are still closed. There are severe travel restrictions in many countries. Only those who have been fully vaccinated can travel. Many people are postponing their travel plans indefinitely as it is still not clear when the world will finally be able to have complete control over the situation.

Events like fairs and exhibitions are not being held. Even those who are traveling are staying away from crowded places.

Yes, 911 out of the 998 casinos in the United States have reopened in the middle of 2020. But very few gamers are still going. With travel restrictions still in place, only a few locals can go to these casino houses. It may be a while before the normal business can resume.

Severe Loss in the Number of Operating Days

Bill Miller, the President, and CEO of AGA says that the commercial casinos have lost 27% of their normal operating days in 2020 due to two reasons – COVID-19 closure and to some extent by the Gulf Coast hurricanes. Out of a total of 170,484 days, the industry could stay open for only 124,882 days in the year.

Of course, the incurred loss is not just in gaming. When the casinos are closed, everything related to them like live entertainment, restaurants, hotels, tourism, and to some extent the conventions also suffer. For example, all activity at the Las Vegas strip has virtually come to a standstill. They are beginning to reopen only now.

The Gaming Industry Is Asking for Relief

Such has been the impact that the American Gaming Association is now asking for federal relief from the government and hoping for better business in the next few years to recover the losses. Capitol Hill is indeed considering how to support the industries affected by COVID-19.

The Emergence of Online Casinos

The physical casino numbers have been falling for some time now, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s because most gamers have now turned to online and mobile gaming. You can now play online live casino UK, in the US, and from anywhere in the world. There are now thousands of websites that offer thousands of games.

In 1996, only a small percentage of people had access to the internet. But a few of them were already playing roulette, poker, and blackjack. Most of the games were basic. But they still hooked the casino lovers.

Fast forward 25 years, and we have so many exciting games now on the internet. There are a variety of slots machine games, baccarat, craps, bingo, different poker games, and much more. There are theme games as well with exciting storylines. They are colorful, have attractive graphics, use advanced technologies. The jackpots are huge.

Many online casinos offer sign-up bonuses and attractive rewards. You will also find no-deposit gaming houses where you don’t have to deposit any money to play the games. There are VIP programs as well. Many online casinos also have special events and competitions.

Mobile Makes Online Gaming Even More Popular

Online casino gaming has become extremely popular now. Mobile gaming has made it even more popular. You can play from your home, place of work, and even when you are traveling. There is no need to physically go to Las Vegas or book a hotel room. This saves money and time. There is no worry about having to play on a crowded gaming floor.

In 2019, there were an estimated 2.2 billion mobile gamers in the US, which has certainly grown even more now.

Here’s a fact that is even more staggering… 56% of all mobile gamers are hooked for 10 hours minimum in a week. In 2019, the online gambling market had an estimated valuation of $53 billion. It is predicted to grow to $95 billion by 2025.

This is not an overestimation. There are presently more than 290 million smartphone users in the United States alone. Worldwide, this figure is an impressive 3.8 billion.

More than 200 million smartphone users in the US play games regularly. Of course, not all of them are into casino games. But still, a significant percentage of that population is into casino gambling.

Global Reach of Online Casino Gaming

Another factor that has made online casino gaming so popular is its global accessibility. An app or website could be registered in a particular country but the gamers can play on it from virtually anywhere. It is very difficult for the government to restrict them even when they want to.

How Are the Traditional Casinos Adapting?

Many of them have made a switchover to online gaming. You will find quite a few in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey that have made this transition. They now have their gaming app and website where the gamers find many interactive games.

Others are developing software and apps that will work on virtually any device. Technology is improving every day. New exciting games are coming out all the time.

In the meantime, the brick-and-mortar casino houses are also trying to survive the pandemic. Some of them are laying off employees to reduce costs, while the others are trying to support the staff workers in whatever way they can. The casino industry has bounced back before. It can do this again. According to statistics published by the AGA, 1 in 3 American adults plans to play at a casino soon.

After all, brick-and-mortar businesses offer something that is yet unmatched in the online world. Live music, entertainment, and an unparalleled gaming ambiance. For many people, nothing can compete with playing on a physical gaming floor. Graphics of the future, though, may somehow match this, making online games even more attractive.

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