The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all industries around the globe, and the betting industry is no different. All land-based casinos, sports stadiums and betting shops were forced to shut down to curb the spread of the virus, which forced bettors to the online gambling sphere.
Impact on Betting Industry
As per the research conducted by H2 Gambling Capital, world sports betting revenue is expected to drop by 11% this year due to the pandemic. The overall betting industry has been affected by the mass cancellation of major sports events, including the Olympic Games, NBA, Wimbledon and more. Several heavyweight boxing matches were postponed or cancelled, and betting revenue from eSports and virtual events have failed to offset the loss. This has caused bookmakers to take massive revenue and profit hits, and many betting firms have embarked on cost-cutting measures, such as laying off employees and restructuring their organisations.
Shift to Online Betting
Online betting during the pandemic has witnessed a major boom, largely due to the decrease in live sports events, which made online betting on virtual games more attractive. Operators with a strong digital presence have witnessed a significant increase in traffic and revenue, and several countries have relaxed restrictions, which has led to many bettors turning to online betting.
Innovation in Betting Industry
With the closure of physical betting shops, online gambling companies have been forced to innovate to keep their customers engaged, and many have expanded their online offerings. Betting firms are now offering virtual sports features, including virtual horse racing and motor racing. Also, a few football clubs held virtual events with their players on gaming platforms, allowing consumers to bet on events.
Changes in consumer habits during self-isolation impacted the industry, with many people turning to gambling to pass the time. A report on gambling harm in the UK claims around 28 million people have increased their online gambling habits during the lockdown, leading to a forecasted rise in the number of people with gambling addiction problems. Problem gambling can have detrimental effects on individuals, society and the economy at large.
The pandemic has caused a massive hit to the betting industry worldwide. With the cancellation of live events, the industry has been forced to come up with creative formats and virtual events to engage and retain their customers. The online gambling industry has been able to adapt, leading to a massive rise in traffic and revenue. However, it is important to address the potential negative impact of problem gambling during the pandemic. The industry should be regulated and adapt innovative measures to minimize social harm while generating revenue during these unprecedented times.