Very few industries can claim to have seen a successful time through the period where COVID-19 brought the world to its knees. There were always going to be some obvious winners, such as those who manufacture Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and antibacterial sanitizing gels. But amongst those making money were some that seemed to surprise a lot of people.
One such industry that came out rather well, was the online gambling industry, which has never been so popular before. It wasn’t instantaneous though, many companies still had a tough time at the start of the lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. But due to their adaptability and flexibility, they were able to weather the stormy waters, and come out unscathed on a nice calm sea with the sun beaming down over them.
One perfect example of how they turned things round, is how UK bookmaker William Hill originally put their staff on furlough. This meant that they would no longer be required to go to work, and the Government would pay them 80% of their wages. Something many employers took part in throughout the UK. But due to their quick turnaround and their ability to navigate the issues caused by COVID-19, William Hill ended up turning a profit, and as a gesture of good will for the Government helping them, repaid all the furlough money they received.
But what were some of the main reasons as to why the industry had such a successful period? How has online gambling become so popular? Let’s take a little look at operations over the last two years to build that picture.
March 2020, the spread of coronavirus starts gathering pace, with infection rates and death rates rising. To prevent it from spreading out of control and to preserve life, sporting events around the world are put on hold, and entertainment venues such as casinos and those that showcase live music are also shut. People have nowhere to go, and everyone is stuck in doors in an effort to try and ride the pandemic and prevent things from getting worse.
Due to casinos closing and a lack of sporting events, the gambling industry is at a loss. Many companies let staff go, as there is no need for them to come into work when they have no customers or events to cover. Something needs to be done before these companies go completely bust and lose everything.
Introducing new markets
There were a couple of ways that online gambling adapted to come back from the initial impact caused by coronavirus. One such avenue they explored was introducing new markets. Many started investing in virtual sports, such as horse racing. Unlike traditional horse races, these were all computer generated images with winners picked by a random number generator.
But just to help entice people in, some places offered deposit match bonuses, whilst others offered free bets or spins on slot games. All in the effort to compete with each other in order to get those new customers before their rivals. But even with the nice extras like a fanduel sportsbook bonus, betting wasn’t quite the same. Because fixed results do not offer the same excitement that comes with watching real competitive sports. So further work needed to be done.
Step in esports. A global phenomenon in recent years, the market for competitive video games has never been more popular. And due to the fact that these could take place over the internet despite venues being shut, it meant that a competitive event was now able to be experienced by viewers online. No fake action like virtual horse racing, real people competing against each other in everything from sports games like FIFA to shooting games like CS:GO, and even more tactical games such as League of Legends and DoTA 2.
With new competitive events being broadcast, it offered experienced bettors a new market to explore. And one they took great advantage of. They were flocking in their thousands, and still are today, to check out all the latest esports action, and to back their favorite teams and players by placing bets on them on tournaments around the world.
Then on top of that, with real casinos shut, many providers online were opening their own live casinos. It was just like being at a real table, with a live dealer and real cards in front of you, just instead of being surrounded by a table of people, you would be sat in your own home. Much like the virtual sports, it wasn’t exactly the same, but there were options to interact with the dealer and other players, to at least keep some kind of social aspect to the whole experience.
No going back
Whilst many people looked forward to restrictions from lockdowns being lifted, many have opted into continuing to gamble online. Many find not being in a live casino means they drink less, they don’t have to travel, and they can do it at their own leisure. Plus the top places have safety features there to prevent customers losing more money than they can afford. So for many people, they feel it is safer to gamble online. And the chances are, it’ll be the same for many people, which is why it’s still becoming more and more popular by the day.