Is Online Gambling Helping Operators during Covid-19 Lockdown?

Casino gaming in the time of Coronavirus is opening doors to the online gambling operators. The US gambling industry also has the opportunity to adapt to this changing scenario. This shift can restore balance to the state economy in the wake of the pandemic that has otherwise caused massive loss to industries across the American continent and other parts of the world. 

Jason Ader, the Managing Partner at SpringOwl Asset Management told Gambling.com that this would be the ideal time for licensed brick-and-mortar casino operators to venture into online gaming and rethink their current policies. Ader is the former board member at the Las Vegas Sands. 

Ader expressed that while social distancing was advised across major regions of the world, the states that had their licenses for online gambling could recover the losses booked in their land casinos. He mentioned that New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware were authorized to operate their licensed online gambling sites. Plus, online poker was also legal in those states as it was in Nevada as well. Also West Virginia and Michigan have legalized online gambling via these virtual casinos and are most likely to be launched later this year. 

He added that it was time for the state legislatures across America to consider allowing online gaming operations as a priority to halt the massive losses recorded by the industry in the wake of the recent pandemic.

All the casino establishments across China were closed down for 15 days soon after the Coronavirus outbreak. It cost them $100 million per day. Although internet gambling is illegal in China, the recent developments hitting the overall gambling market there have leaders pondering on the idea of making online gambling legal.

Ader in his statement to the CNBC said that Coronavirus in China is leading people to indulge in illegal gambling online. This has resulted in people spending a lot of money in their off-shore books instead of at the casinos. This means that the state is not getting the tax revenue benefits.

In China, the daily online gambling business recorded a 90% rise as stated by Ader. This was in comparison to the figures recorded last year and prompted industry experts to think if the land-based business operations should rather be merged with the online operators. Ader reiterated that this was a wake-up call for the entire world as land-based casino operators weren’t making business.

In Florida, the lawmakers have already considered online gambling as a potential tax revenue generator. With the increasing demand in other sectors at this hour of the world health crisis, Ader says that the other American states should also consider doing this.

Land-based casino business hit due to Coronavirus 

COVID-19 has affected the gaming business in Northern America as much as it has brought adversities for many other sectors. Not only the casino business but sports betting has also been closed down with the halting of all sports events and activates. NBA, MLB and NHL and other associations have also postponed their events.

You won’t see gamers betting or playing at land casinos. The lockdown orders and the fear of contagion are keeping people away from venturing into public spaces. Be it the slot machines, gaming tables casino chips, people are considering to avoid it. Land casinos are looming in the dark with the fear that whether gamers will return to the establishment or not.

Valley Forge Casino, located in the outskirts of Philadelphia announced that they would close down for the next 15 days at least. Rivers Casino also followed in those footsteps announcing a shut down for 14 days.

Many brick-and-mortar casinos in Ohio also shut down their gates as the state was to mandatorily observe sticking to the guidelines of allowing only a total of 100 people in a building. Among the other states to follow the shutdown of casinos was Oregon. This came as a quick action after one of the employees at the Wildhorse Resort & Casino tested positive for Coronavirus.

How would America respond to the global call?  

In the US, the states that have the license to operate are likely to see a surge in their revenue. As anticipated, this is to increase as more people stay at home. Contrary to the current online gaming market in the US, internet gambling is popular in Europe. People living in states without access to online gaming might search for illegal means to play via off-shore options.

New Jersey’s plan to include online gaming has been a blessing in disguise for the state as it recorded $494.81 million in total sports betting handle last month. This indicated its rise by 54.5% compared to the total handle recorded for February 2019. It was $436.49 million in February last year. As reported by sources, the mobile betting handle was recorded at 88.2% of the total sports betting market in NJ during the same period. The 15% tax on online gambling revenue in NJ was the bonus.

In NJ some of the brick-and-mortar casinos operators such as Golden Nugget, MGM, Hard Rock and Caesars Entertainment are experiencing a high. Golden Nugget itself owns more than 1/3rd of the online market in the state.

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