Updated: Sep 20, 2020
Gambling after Covid-19: A grim future or a golden opportunity for innovation and digital transformation
Reading the titles of news articles of recent months has been a soul-crashing experience, from failing health systems and illness to failing economies and loss of job globally has been the predominant information that we have consumed continuously. The gambling sector has not been left unscathed from this global catastrophe with Macau’s casino revenue dropping by 96.8% compared to April 2019 and betting shops in the UK are posed to experience a 50% revenue and client drop in the upcoming post Covid-19 years. Arguably land-based gambling which heavily depends on people making physical visits to partake in betting stakes or other gambling activities will face very serious issues in upcoming years.So we all wondering how much gambling would change after Covid-19. But is the gambling sector facing a dim future for the next few years or is it time to innovate and enter a new era of gaming?
While land-based betting and casinos are facing some of their worst financial quarters in history, recent studies have shown that the online gambling industry is facing and will continue to experience a rise in players and figures. Moving on from traditional sports such as football and basketball to e-sports, the industry has managed to minimize the losses experienced elsewhere due to the global pandemic. Sportradar, a global provider of sports content has recently released figures that show that not only did it sustain its live sports content delivery but even managed to increase its coverage levels compared to the same period last year. Given the fact that most sporting events have been cancelled it would be logical to suggest that coverage of sporting events would drop significantly, but e-sports, branded by many as a global lifeline for betting operators, has assisted in maintaining the levels for sport streaming.
Newzoo, a leading provider of market intelligence covering esports and mobile markets, has advised in its latest report that “Global esports revenues will grow to $1.1 billion in 2020, a year-on-year growth of +15.7%, up from $950.6 million in 2019”. These figures show that more and more brands invest in e-sports gaming which in itself solidifies the notion that online gambling might be the life-preserver gambling operators will need to invest in. Furthermore, studies have shown that by 2030 e-sports will become both the most watched and most played sport around the globe. It can be argued that E-sports and subsequently online gambling is not a trend, but a sport industry that is here to stay.
Moving on from e-sports specifically and viewing online gambling as whole, it is evident that this is a large and rapidly-growing sector internationally. According to the European Gaming & Betting Association, “In 2018, the total EU-28 online gambling market generated €22.2bn in Gross Gaming Revenue, accounting for 49.2% of the total global online gambling market” and the online gambling market is experiencing growths of up to 10% per year a figure that will most possibly increase when taking into account the current global situation as well as the post-pandemic probable gambling trends (move away from traditional betting).
USA, a country that has traditionally favoured land-based gambling rather than online, as seen for example by its aggressive approach in closing access to huge online poker platforms such as PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, is on the verge of allowing an expansion in this industry. With the American Gaming Association estimating potential economic losses of $21 billion it is evident that it is necessary and actually a great chance for the Land of opportunity to embrace the benefits of having a real presence online as well as land-based. The effects of the pandemic have forced the United States to consider this digital transformation in the gambling industry and move on from traditional betting in specialized locations in Atlantic City and Las Vegas to enter into the digital world when it comes to gaming.
Taking everything into account there is currently a rising financial threshold to invest and enter the e-sports betting business and online gambling as a whole. By shifting now into the online gambling sector an operator or an investor will have a relatively early access to build core communities with players and fans as the esports betting professionalizes and legitimizes. Arguably it is now more important than ever for land-based casinos and land-based betting shops to have a strong online presence as well, firstly to balance out the unavoidable losses they are experiencing and secondly to have a guaranteed gateway into the future of gambling.One is for sure..Gambling sector after Covid-19 would not be the same..
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