The immediate closure of land-based hospitality and entertainment venues worldwide led to shifts in consumer use and behaviors – the casino industry was no exception. This wasn’t necessarily more people taking up gambling but instead people that had previously enjoyed visiting land-based casinos unable to do so and having to shift how they now enjoy their hobby.
We all know that 2020 was a strange year for everyone, and no matter where you are in the world, you have likely been impacted by the pandemic. In March 2020, the UK placed the country in lockdown, meaning movements were significantly reduced. This meant that people were told to work from home where possible, and all types of public entertainment were closed – including all casinos. The UK was far from the only country to do this, and much of the world had various restrictions on movement throughout 2020 and 2021.
This restriction meant that people had to rely on the internet more than ever. This didn’t just mean shopping but also for socializing and entertainment. The world opened up a range of virtual events that people could attend, and weekly Zoom calls with friends became pretty much the norm.
As a result, online casinos UK became popular with people who wanted something to do while they were in lockdown. A big part of this would have been people who were used to using land-based casinos but then couldn’t. Sports betting online increased during the same period for the same reason.
Of course, the gambling industry jumped on this and made sure that they made the most out of the increased interest in their products. With new games, bigger jackpots, and an increase in advertising, they made sure that they did everything they could to reach this potential new audience, and with signups during these months increasing it clearly worked.
What Does Everything Look Like Now Things Are Opening Up Again?
In the UK, a majority of restrictions were lifted in July, which meant that casinos, bookmakers, and other entertainment venues were allowed to open up again. With such an increase in the popularity of online casinos and people finding out how easy it is to bet online, there were some concerns that people would make a complete shift to online gambling.
Although it’s still the early days of the world returning to normal, there has been a slowdown in the number of users gambling online since land-based options were allowed to open their doors once again.
There are different reasons why someone might be keen to revisit a land-based casino. But when you consider that it has been around 18 months since they could last visit for many people, it is easy to see why the incentive to do so – especially when you consider that the restrictions surrounding socializing with friends were also lifted in June. This meant people can now visit land-based casinos with their friends, something they have been unable to do since last year.
Different elements of online gambling have been affected, but those that require some interaction with other players are especially popular within land-based casinos. Slot machines and the like don’t really require input from other players, so it may not matter whether you are at home playing on your own or in a casino playing with others – but there are many casino games where this is not the case.
Card-based table games are another segment set to be impacted by the reopening of land-based casinos – sites that specialize in niches like online blackjack casinos could see slowdowns as users relish the chance to experience these games in person again.
What Does This Mean For the Long-Term Future of Online Gambling?
The truth is that no one really knows what the future holds for any land-based entertainment options because there is still trepidation about Covid-19 and any variants that may reoccur in the future. Although in the UK, at least coronavirus does seem to be back under control, there are fears that it will flare up again once the weather turns bad again as winter approaches. This fear will keep many people wanting to keep socializing to a minimum and therefore making use of things like online casinos much more.
Of course, there is a chance that Coronavirus will repeat itself, albeit to a lesser degree, and restrictions will need to be put in place. Although there is no confirmation that this will happen, it is worth noting that it is also something that the Government refuses to rule out. If the worst-case scenario were to happen, it is likely to send people flocking to use online casinos again.
Long term, the casino industry is expecting the excitement of being allowed out again to die down and for people to go back to the familiarity of some online casino services. With so many online casinos proving popular during lockdown and people realizing just how easy they are to sign up to and use, people will likely want to continue this in the future. Currently, it is a novelty to be allowed out again, and many people will want to dive all in and take advantage of this.
That said, once the weather turns and the evenings are cold and dark again, there is a real chance that the thought of going outside again will be off-putting. It is then that the online casino industry needs to step in and once again offer something to those that will be unable to or unwilling to go out and socialize with friends. Online casinos offer a genuine way to pass the time, and there is absolutely no reason why this can’t continue to be a legitimate and popular offering in the future.