When Coronavirus hit the world, most people turned to their families for safety. And then they focused on how to survive amid a devastating pandemic. Those fortunate with more than they need offered help where they could. But little attention was given to online casinos.
And can you blame anyone? With people worrying about their safety and the next meals, iGaming businesses were left to worry about their own survival. Interestingly, they turned out just fine, at least gambling sites based in the UK. Here’s what we mean.
All-Time High Casino Searches
Online casino searches were jumping through the roofless than two months after Boris Johnson announced a countrywide lockdown. According to the BBC, the unusually high demand for online gambling was short-lived.
But it provided a clear glimpse of COVID-19’s impact on the iGaming industry. For starters, the nationwide lockdown forced people to stay at home for long hours. And as a result, they had to find new ways of entertainment.
Online gambling provided a cheap but effective way to kill time online. And for professional gamblers, it offered a chance to continue making money even though they were quarantined at home.
Increased Bets by Enthusiasts
Although Coronavirus prompted many people to reduce their gambling budgets, enthusiast players had different ideas. An April report by the Survation Poll showed that Britons that normally gambled once a week had maintained or increased their habits.
Enthusiasts didn’t just increase the number of times they bet per week. They also increased their budgets, often taking riskier wagers for different reasons. For example, sports punters turned to casino games now that sports were also affected by the pandemic.
Alternatively, they wagered on virtual games—luck-based sports simulation games sportsbooks provide as compliments for real-world sports. Another behaviour change was that avid players started to open new playing accounts—something some experts feared could fuel a gambling addiction problem.
The days when only top gambling websites dominated the casino market are gone. This year, in particular, the competition has been stiff. And only operators providing quality services managed to attract people’s attention.
So, what services were people yearning for? You probably know about bonuses. Everyone loves them. And due to that, nearly every online casino has a welcome package for new and loyal customers.
But when you read more information, you’ll realize that the best gambling sites aren’t built on good bonuses alone. The competition now also pertains to game variety, payment methods, security, game fairness and customer service.
Companies that perform well in all areas have been pretty successful. In contrast, businesses rated poorly for game variety, customer service, or payments suffered. Casino players, whether new or experienced, like to spend their money on the best gaming websites.
Mobile Gaming on the Rise
Amid Coronavirus, iPhones and Android smartphones have become the preferred gambling devices. And it’s not a surprise. Mobile gaming has been mushrooming since the early 2010s. And by 2017, they were more popular than both desktop and console games.
When you think about it, mobile devices make a lot of sense when it comes to casino games. They are easily accessible. They’re affordable and convenient. More importantly, they provide the same quality of gaming as their desktop counterparts.
Also, there’s the fact that the average person in the UK spends up to 24 hours every week on their iPhones and iPads. Call it a dangerous trend or obsession with smartphones. But it’s a fact. And for that reason, it plays a role in helping spike mobile casino gaming.
eSports Getting a Spotlight
Visit any of the top online gambling websites today. And there’s a chance you’ll find eSports betting markets. For the uninitiated, eSports describes competitive video game tournaments. And you can bet on them similarly to how you wager on regular sports.
Many of the best gambling businesses today favour comprehensive gaming positions over specialization. What that means is that they feature sportsbooks on the same websites they provide casino games.
That said, eSports was one of the most talked-about sports during the Coronavirus crisis. And that’s because it’s only one of a few sports not disrupted by the pandemic. With football, basketball, rugby and even hockey, finding appropriate betting markets was hard.
But when it came to eSports, you could bet at nearly every sportsbook. Why? Video game competitions can be held online, meaning they didn’t need to cancel games due to Coronavirus.
A Double-Edged Sword
Although Coronavirus resulted in unexpected benefits for gambling businesses, it also had some drawbacks. For starters, legislators and problem gambling watch groups have been attacking online casinos left, right and center.
British MPs have been pressuring gambling businesses to place weekly betting limits. On the flip side, watch groups were constantly threatening legal action on casinos without anti-gambling tools.
In all fairness, all polls show the nationwide lockdown in Britain was not a good time for addicted players. With businesses closed and quarantining being the norm, problem gamblers found themselves betting more than they wished.
Fortunately, the UK has a lot of helpful avenues for problem gamblers. From Gamstop and Gamblers Anonymous to self-imposed limits, all hope is not lost when someone becomes addicted to casino or sports betting.
Capturing New Demographics
For many years, online gambling was viewed as an industry of older generations. Millennials and Generation Z have never been in the iGaming conversation, until recently. Amid Coronavirus, online casinos have become attractive not just to their usual targets but young players too.
Statistically, young people have been targeting games with social play or skills in them. For example, they prefer poker and blackjack to slots. And they spend more time at live casino sections rather than video poker or RNG roulette sections.
Will young players continue to play casino games post-COVID? Time will tell. But this year, and thanks to an extended lockdown, Millennials finally opened up to casino games. Casinos, of course, hope they will continue to be customers. Cause that’s the only way they can maintain profitability decades to come.
Interesting related article: “What are eSports?“