Land-based casinos are expected to see a massive revenue dip thanks to the new measures, such as social distancing that decreased the number of casino visitors. The players who still go to brick-and-mortar casinos are afraid to touch the surfaces and gaming machines as COVID-19 can be found on those as well. Handling the money for casino deposits is another issue, as paper money is known to carry a potential threat of hosting viruses and bacteria.
Sportsbooks weren’t spared either. With the UEFA and FIFA suspending all major international football competitions, as well as the top-tier football competitions like the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, and Italian Serie A also postponing their matches, both online sportsbooks and land-based ones are under a terrible strain.
The cancellation of sports events such as the Olympic Games in Tokyo, all top tennis tournaments, and the NBA, NFL, and MLB major league sports led to a decrease in the general betting offer and betting markets.
However, one particular section of the casino industry is weathering the storm exceedingly well. The online casino industry has seen a boost in both revenue and traffic.
More and more players are urged to stay at home. This situation has led them to opt for online casinos and sportsbooks that have a wide range of casino games, virtual sports, and e-sports betting.
The numbers are rising across the board, and many of our software providers and clients are showing substantial numbers and statistical data presented below.
Coronavirus Situation Brings a Steady Increase in Bets Made, Number of Users, and GGR in Online Casino
The start of the year brought a decrease in all important categories. The number of bets and their amounts plummeted. That sort of dismal state continued throughout January, or the first four or five weeks.
However, as we can see in Table 1, the number of users and bets were on a steady rise, reaching almost a 10% increase, while the parameters like bet amounts and GGR were not part of the positive growth trend.
As week 6 and the start of February came, the situation improved significantly. We could note an increase in the number of users compared to the start of the year by as much as 20%. The number of bets placed jumped by 15%, followed by a 5+% increase in betting amounts and GGR.
The negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak undoubtedly permeates the business world, but online casinos are profiting from it.
Even more compelling evidence can be seen when we focus on the data from March, a month during which the numbers of coronavirus patients skyrocketed across the globe. With the rising number of cases, came a rise in the ones staying at home and enjoying online casino games and wagering on virtual sports and e-sports. Check out Table 2 for more details.
This rising trend was reflected in all parameters. Compared to the beginning of the year, the number of new users rose by 40%. We can also see a 35% increase in the number of bets, which testifies to the fact that players now opt for online casino games and placing wagers on virtual sports and e-sports due to the absence of other forms of gambling.
Not only did the numbers of users and bets rise in March and since coronavirus kicked in, but the amount of bets saw a 20% increase too, testifying to players’ willingness to play more and go for bigger wins.
Many providers and operators can attest to the growing trends. Some believe that most of these players will not just be one-time players, but will continue to play in their selected casinos and sportsbooks even after coronavirus becomes a thing of the past.
Clients and Providers’ Reflection on the Current State
We have reached out to our respective clients to get the necessary data and present you with an overview of the current situation. Here’s what our clients had to say about the situation:
‘We’ve seen an increase in the number of casino players after people from our target countries were quarantined. Not having much sports action to bet on actually helped us a lot with cross-selling backed with low-cost promotions, and a good portion of sports players are actively playing casino games and virtual sports now. Considering a lot of those players will remain interested in sports and casinos after the epidemic, we’ll certainly have a much healthier sports/casino revenue ratio’, said Cagri Maktum, a co-founder of Poligon Entertainment NV, Superbetin.com.
In a similar fashion, Valery, a Technical Director of VipCLUB.casino, said:
‘Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen steady growth in the number of players. Given our focus on Eastern Europe, we believe that the peak has not been reached yet — but it is already visible on the horizon. We expect that after the introduction of strict quarantine (if it happens, of course), the number of visitors will greatly increase, just as marketing expenditure will. Given the social vulnerability of the most Eastern Europeans (I mean lack of sufficient allowances and payouts during the quarantine), we think that it will only encourage users to spend more money in online casinos in the hope to earn some additional money. Gamblers may confuse concepts of entertainment and work because of that, which will surely mean an increase in negative reviews.’
Many of our respected providers shared their current state of affairs. The management at Betgames said that, although sportsbook-related content slowed down, overall game performance has increased. The minimum bet limit went down as an incentive for players who prefer low-stakes games.
Regarding the growing numbers of players, Yury Mikhaylov, a Sales Director from Betgames, said:
“Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen a spike in the number of players and gaming sessions’ duration. We attribute this to the migration of players from land-based casinos to their online counterparts after a lot of facilities had been closed because of the quarantine. It also feels like gamblers have more time to spend on casino games now. Besides, the decrease in the sports betting offer forces players to switch to our product since it lies at the intersection of sportsbook and online casino.”
Betgames also saw a change in the players’ behavioral pattern. Mr. Mikhaylov noted:
“It should be noted that there is an increase in the number of bets and a decrease in the average bet size. I think it stems from the fall in players’ income and their concerns regarding their financial situation. In addition, we are seeing a daily fluctuation in the number of bets smoothing out. The explanation is simple — many avid gamblers who are in self-isolation can now enjoy our services during business hours and in the late evening.”
A word from NetEnt, a software provider giant, follows in the same line, as they too saw an increase in bets placed on their games over the past weekend.
What Does the Future Hold?
No one can tell for sure when the COVID-19 pandemic will end, but one thing is certain. With the help of online casino games, virtual sports, and e-sports, online casinos and sportsbooks will continue to provide players with valuable betting and gaming options.
Virtual sports, ranging from football games to polo, are on the rise. It is all thanks to their realistic 3D graphics, professional commentator voice-overs, and camera angles that make the punters feel like they’re watching a real sports match. The betting options and ranges these games offer are substantial and a perfect substitute for the lack of actual sports events.
With the addition of e-sports and betting, on top video games like League of Legends, FIFA, NBA2K, Fortnite, and others, as well as numerous live tournaments on which you can bet, the playing options during the coronavirus outbreak won’t be lacking.
Betgames’s Yury Mikhaylov’s reflections on the current situation and the future give an insight into the possible developments on the market. Here’s what he had to say:
“At this point, our company is receiving strong interest from potential partners. We are integrating dozens of new operators every day. This is primarily due to the rise in new players and, as a consequence of this, increased turnover of gambling companies. However, we do understand that the decrease of people’s income due to the crisis will have a significant impact on our profits. Therefore, we have prepared and launched several new marketing additions to our games. Also, we plan to expand our product offering. I am sure that, with combined efforts, we will be able to compensate for the falling volumes.”