With the world currently under lockdown, most businesses are under duress. And casinos are no different! Forced to shut doors during one of the busiest fiscal quarters, losses are mounting with every passing day. With the future still under a shroud of uncertainty, the road ahead is dark. Like everything else in life, this too shall pass. But, how does the casino industry plan to recover from the impact of COVID-19?
For starters, the repercussions are enormous, and the industry needs time to return to a pre-COVID stage. Although challenging, this isn’t impossible. Like every other industry, casinos need to adopt changes for survival. While some have already taken the leap of faith! The rise of online casinos is a silver lining and spells the return of regular players, albeit to a different format. Online roulette sites being the perfect example.
Dissecting The Story So Far
The British scenario perhaps illustrates the difficulties of COVID-19 in the most elaborate manner. Although a consensus suggests staying indoors is crucial for survival in these difficult times. The Betting and Gaming Council designed a ten-point plan to limit its impact on the gambling industry. However, the ground reality is different, as these steps are yet to be enforced in full.
A similar situation can be observed around the world, with authorities facing a crisis of this magnitude for the first time. Staying confined indoors has begun to show its dark side on a significant portion of the population, with physical and mental illnesses popping up. Obesity and depression being the most common problems.
Engaging in stimulating activities is a possible solution, and online gambling could open up new recreational avenues. With a vast assortment of games to choose from, an increasing number of people are turning to online casinos for fun. Although gambling has its range of problems, addiction being the most common, it is undeniably exciting, especially for newbies. Which is precisely the sort of engagement people need amidst a crisis!
While online casinos and betting sites are on the rise, physical establishments might not recover if they fail to innovate. Moreover, the number of people flocking to online platforms is far less compared to the average footfall at physical casinos pre-quarantine. Hence, competition is high.
The Road Ahead
According to a survey conducted in late April, a thousand respondents, regular gamblers, expressed their views on how casinos could bounce back in a post-COVID world. Over 50% said they plan on returning to physical casinos as soon as current restrictions are lifted. A primary motivation behind this answer is familiarity and the experience of human interaction. Something online casinos lack so far!
Although technology like VR and AR are being used with limited success, mass implementation is a long way off. Of the people willing to return post-lockdown, 60% are drawn by slot games and video gambling services, 43% by bars and restaurants, 38% by casino entertainment, and 35% by table games.
In addition, 35% say they’ll return to their usual casinos, while 29% are open to promotional offers. While 36% said improved health and safety standards are the decider. Of the people waiting to return, 48% said their spending would remain unchanged. While 29% are willing to increase their wager. The remaining 23% are looking to tone down their spending.
While a majority of respondents said standard safety protocols would play a significant part in their decision to return. Others aren’t so sure about casinos following the rules as strictly once business begins to boom. 14% of people unwilling to return have cited the economic crisis as a deciding factor. Another major criterion is a vaccine, the discovery of which would positively influence people to return.
With a 64% increase in online gambling during the period, the initial concern was its impact on physical casinos once things returned to normal. However, studies found 20% of online gamblers were previously unfamiliar with the activity. While a majority of regulars are willing to return to physical establishments once restrictions are lifted. Among the new players, 93% suggested they would continue wagering online post-quarantine. So, there is no conflict of interest between the two business models, at least for now!
On the bright side, with the introduction of online gambling, millennials have jumped into the fray. Thus, increasing the audience-base. An interesting observation surfaced during the course of this survey with Gen X willing to explore physical casinos. While older, regular gamblers, remain skeptical.
It’s apparent that a world after COVID-19 will see a slew of changes. With most industries innovating and adapting, quickly finding a new normal is crucial for survival. While a majority of gamblers have expressed interest in returning to their old habits, personal safety is of paramount importance. The introduction of younger generations could also be a deciding factor in the near future.
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