Could the Coronavirus be Good News for the Online Gaming Industry?
At this present moment in time, there is only one thing that the world is talking about, and that, of course, is the coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it is more properly known. There are various claims about how the virus originated, but one thing that cannot be disputed is that the first victims were recorded in the Wuhan, China.
Despite efforts by the Chinese authorities, the virus could not be contained, and it quickly spread across the rest of the country. After just a couple of weeks, the virus breached Chinese borders and began to spread across the rest of the world, reaching Europe and eventually the United States too.
The world now seems to be falling apart to prevent the virus from doing massive amounts of damage. The virus itself is not that deadly, and some people may be carrying COVID-19 without even knowing it. Unfortunately, with some people, having the virus can cause their immune systems to go into overdrive, causing serious health problems and in some cases, death. The actual number of fatalities may never be known, but the eventual number could venture into the millions.
COVID-19 has hit multiple business sectors, including all forms of gambling
Many business sectors have been devastated by this viral outbreak, and one of those global business sectors is gambling. The world’s hotbed of casino gambling – Macau – has already taken a massive hit in terms of finances, mainly due to both local and international travel restrictions, and now the vast majority of casinos in Las Vegas have closed their doors too. While real-world gambling has taken a hit, perhaps the coronavirus – the seriousness of which should never be underestimated or taken lightly – could see online gambling and new online casinos flourish?
As early as the first few days of March, casinos in Las Vegas were noticing a steady drop-off in the number of people who were striding through their open doors. Resort operators such as MGM Resorts and Las Vegas Sands were preparing themselves for a revenue hit. It’s not just casino operators who are under threat as gambling tourism wanes – hotels and restaurants are seeing vastly reduced numbers putting businesses and the future of their employees at risk.
On March 15th MGM Resorts finally admitted defeat and announced that in two days they would close all of their many casinos in Las Vegas. They had already decided to close dozens of their restaurants and buffets. This wasn’t just a pre-emptive measure – one employee at the MGM Grand Wet Republic Ultra Lounge has already tested positive for COVID-19.
The coronavirus has succeeded in turning Las Vegas into a ghost town.
Within a couple of days, most casinos, hotels and restaurants upon the Las Vegas strip had shut their doors, turning Las Vegas into a ghost town. The ‘adult’s playground’ had not before been so deserted for decades. At the moment, it’s impossible to say how long this wagering shutdown will last. A vaccine is at least a year-to-eighteen-months away, although the number of people suffering from the virus is expected to peak during the summer months.
So, now that people cannot gamble at real-world casinos (thousands of casinos all around the world have closed their doors), will they take to online gambling instead? Could new online casinos suddenly be inundated with requests from people hoping to open brand new accounts?
Five or so years ago in the United States, this shift from real-world wagering to online wagering would of course been unthinkable, but times have changed. States such as New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware have led the way in offering legalised and regulated online wagering services, allowing countless new online casinos to emerge. Many of these new online casinos are run by the same companies that run real-world casinos so that online gambling may present them with a much-needed alternative revenue stream.
Could real-world casino operators lobby the Federal Government to fast-track legalisation across the board?
Casino lobbyists in the US may even petition the Federal Government into allowing them to move their operations online, creating dozens of new online casinos overnight. Real-world casinos have always been against online gambling, fearful of internet gambling, hitting their real-world revenues. Now it looks like with this dislike of online wagering; real-world casino operators have shot themselves in the foot.
What about the rest of the world? In truth, there are a handful of regions upon the globe where real-world gambling is more popular than online gambling, three of those being Las Vegas, Macau and Monte Carlo. For other areas, is it a case of carrying on as normal? Will new online casinos struggle in the wake of the current, virus-smothered world?
With little sport available, sports betting companies are becoming increasingly desperate.
For that, we have to take a look at the world of sport. Currently, you’d be hard-pressed to find any sporting contest taking place anywhere on the globe. In terms of football, both the Champions League and the Europe League have been suspended, as has the EPL, the EPL and all leading European Leagues. In the USA, MLS and the NBA have been suspended, and MLB delayed (the NFL is currently in its off-season). All major tennis, golf and motorsport events have been postponed, and the 2020 European Football Championships have been postponed until 2021.
So, if you were to venture to say, Bet365, and look for a sporting event to bet upon, you are likely to fresh out of luck, unless betting on the Belarus Reserve League gets you unduly excited. Bet365 in desperation has been offered odds on FIFA20 games and virtual sports.
That means with no sports to bet upon, these companies need to draw revenue from somewhere and many are pushing their slots and casino games. This could be an unexpectedly bountiful time for both new online casinos and established ones.
22 Mar. 2020, by Ari Waknine
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