Talking about any subject unrelated with the current pandemic state, the entire world finds itself in, seems to be an impossible task. There is hardly any aspect of our lives that hasn’t undergone major changes in these few months since the beginning of the year. The gambling community, in its whole, underwent a series of interesting adjustments, meant to help the wagering industry cope with the new situation. Thus, while the classic land-based casinos and betting places received the ruinous news of shutting down for an indefinite amount of time, the iGaming market gained an empowering new wave of interest.
iGaming business takes a turn for the worse
However, as any crisis has taught us, things get worse before they get better. The beginning of the pandemic seemed to catch everyone off guard. The waves of panic reached all economic branches, with those that weren’t deemed crucial, absorbing the better part of the hit. When processing the dreadful information was at its start, it seemed that nobody wanted to spend anything on leisure time, giving every penny to supplying households.
The immediate result was that share prices for the listed companies related to the gambling industry plummeted. For instance, William Hill managed to go down with 80.7% in a bit under a month’s time, between 21st February and 19th March. Some of the most famous iGaming software providers around the world felt the same tough times, as, for example, IGT’s stock price went down with 73%, while Playtech had a value lower with 60%, in the same time frame.
And on top of that, the circulation restrictions and imposed social distancing begun. It was the moment that sports have been banned when a rise in the interest in free gambling games was felt in the UK. As a matter of fact, some signals in this direction were already given by Chinese mammoth company Tencent, which emerged out of the pandemic with a rise in profit due to their online gaming platform. But the true movement towards the iGaming sector started the moment that Euro 2020 was announced to be postponed for the following year.
iGaming sector bounces back
The entire British nation started to realize the perks that any online casino offers, especially in a state of lockdown as they were currently going through. Thus, punters started to replace their affinity and involvement in live sports’ betting, with an orientation towards online casino games. Online lottery also made an impressive comeback, while marginal and niche games took the spotlight, through eGames betting, with a clear focus on EA Sports’ FIFA tournaments.
The rising trend of online gambling for real money has reached new heights in a very short amount of time. For instance, Australia studies reveal a rise of 67% for the online gambling market, even more than for the food delivery services. Another example sees an increase with 255% of new first-time online poker players among US gamblers.
Threats related to a gray market, in volatile times
There is a psychological strain on gambling enthusiasts during this time of crisis. When facing stressful periods, gamblers tend to return to a habit when they feel happy and relaxed as a way to regain control over their lives turned upside-down by the pandemic-related restrictions. As a direct result, in UK slots not registered with GamStop have registered a rise in interest, as those falling into the old behavioral patterns are reprioritizing and renounce at their self-imposed ban. Seeing how all online casinos under the UKGC tutelage need to register with GamStop, the last weeks witnessed an increase in players choosing offshore online casinos. Among these, the Bitcoin gambling sites seem to thrive, due to the extensive anonymity offered by cryptocurrencies as a means for placing wagers.
These sorts of disruptive trends aren’t regarded as positive and there have been talks about imposing a tax on gambling winnings UK based, as well as taking up the Swedish example and shutting down platforms of online gambling altogether, fearing a massive increase in the harm done by extensive wagering.
Concrete measures implemented to keep the flow going
Until any further regulations pass as official, operators of online gambling sites try and make the best out of this dramatic situation, while setting their business on a profitable path. Not to say that they’ve completely lost their humanity. Besides donations to organizations helping this health crisis, they contribute any other way they can. For instance, the home of a renowned convention on iGaming London ExCel Center has been accommodated as a quarantine center with 4000 beds.
The gambling market is surely undergoing quick changes to meet the new demand. Adding new games to the supply, focus not on renowned competitions but rather on live broadcast, regardless if these happened in the amateur league, or any other league which presented no previous interest. State-owned lotteries renounced to wage a war with all the private online lotteries and joined forces in a beneficial collaboration relationship on both sides. Also, iGaming business is focusing on contracting exclusive tournaments, to increase the rate of new users and to side-pass the competition.
Marketing strategies reoriented their focus, going towards two different directions, both of which are designed to grasp a larger piece of this newly opened market of fresh gamblers on the Internet. Firstly, they redirected their advertising from sports sites to news channels, as these have a large influx of people interested in the latest development on COVID-19. The other direction consists in upgrading their welcoming promotions, in the sense of offering a huge casino bonus to any new registration on their site.
The most successful approach was in a strong connection with the capacity to quickly adapt. Classic gambling facilities that had a partnership with the online gambling market managed a fast recovery, while the iGaming community hopes to profit on the long run, from this unexpected shift in their favor.