When COVID-19 first struck the world, Australia was one of the countries least affected by the novel pandemic. However, things have morphed tremendously over the past year and a half and Australia is currently one of the countries feeling the full effect of lockdowns. Various states, including Queensland, have reinstated government-enforced anti-COVID-19 health measures, with massive implications for different industries. The new dynamics have affected both online gambling websites and land-based casinos, although the impacts are different for each. Here's an overview of the significant ways the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns are impacting casinos everywhere.
The recent waves of COVID infections have forced many countries back into lockdown, intending to catch the virus before it spreads further into the population. Many popular gambling cities, such as Sydney and Queensland, are in total lockdown, which immediately translates into the new regulations for brick-and-mortar entertainment centres, casinos included. Some casinos that had managed to remain open are now subject to new capacity limits and operation hours.
The new regulations are anything but profitable for brick-and-mortar platforms, which also face low turnover since most players remain in their homes. Many land-based casinos are already suspended in line with new lockdown rules, and more are expected to close down if the rate of new infections continues to soar. However, Australia is yet to reach a critical level, so some locations, such as Crown Casino, can still host up to 300 customers simultaneously.
Fans of classic gambling experiences found only in brick-and-mortar casinos have seen most of their local hubs shut down in fear of spreading the virus. Some casinos are closing because there are no walk-in customers to serve, while others can't cope with the strict capacity limits. Whichever the case, players can no longer freely visit their local casinos to explore their favourite games. Some find the new requirements involving sitting down while drinking and eating undesirable and the gambling experience unsatisfying.
With cities going back into lockdown, more land-based casinos are poised for suspension unless things change rapidly. As it stands, offline betting shops are discouraged and can’t compete with the generous no deposit bonuses and other promotions available online. Other services associated with the gambling scene, such as clubs, restaurants, and performances, have also been shut down, making the proposition less attractive for hardcore fans of the gambling atmosphere. In this wake, some platforms have invested more in streamlining online gambling to retain their loyal players.
Most studies and surveys show increasing participation in online betting. According to a report published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), 1 in 3 surveyed players have signed up for a new gambling account with online casinos during the COVID period. 1 in 20 players has also begun placing real money bets on those casinos. The publication also reveals that young players (between 18 and 34 years) are more likely to sign up for an online betting account. Most new online casinos offer lucrative welcome bonuses to attract and retain players.
With more land-based casinos closing, online websites have seen an influx of customers looking to explore various real-money games found in classic gambling halls. This comes with the need to scale casino resources and operations to accommodate the growing number of transactions and correspondences. More players are also exploring offshore websites, so local online sites face increased competition, with new operators coming from various jurisdictions. Nonetheless, online gambling activity has been growing since Australia introduced anti-COVID-19 health measures during the early stages of 2020.
Online casinos bring the gambling world to the player's hands and work efficiently across modern devices. While this is convenient and instant, it also comes with various drawbacks for problem gamblers. According to studies, more people have succumbed to their gambling tendencies during the pandemic and lost more money betting online. While this doesn't negatively impact casinos, it is a growing concern among regulators and support groups and may prompt new regulations, such as mandatory self-exclusion for players.
According to the survey from AIFS, many players benefited from the shutdown of local gambling halls and were able to save more money that would otherwise be spent betting. This has a direct impact on land-based casinos that rely on income from walk-in customer bets. Some casinos have transferred operations online, but not all players have been drawn to the virtual gambling scene. Even so, reports indicate that gambling revenue has remained stable in Australia despite the absence of sports events. Luck-based games have essentially replaced sports betting, so casinos are keen to increase such products for their online customers.
COVID-19 has impacted real money casinos in various ways. Land-based operations are more affected by the lockdowns since they rely on walk-in clients. However, online casinos have also seen significant changes that call for new strategies, fast scaling and adaptation. Here are some key takeaways:
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