2020 was the year that saw a global pandemic caused by Covid-19. The repercussions are still being felt and there appears no real end in site to the damage caused. This caused not only physical harm for people but financial too as Covid-19 affected all businesses.

Millions of people lost their jobs across the world and unemployment rose to levels not seen since the Great Depression. Businesses that were deemed non-essential were ordered to close. People were unable to travel with quarantine and self isolation rules being brought in.

The gambling industry was affected as much as any other. Bingo halls, high street bookmakers and casinos were closed for the lockdown and people either furloughed or let go completely. Tourist hotspots across the world gradually turned into ghost towns. 

Las Vegas becomes vacant
In March 2020 there were about 1.5 million visitors to Las Vegas. One year before during the same month there were 3.6 million people visiting. These numbers continued to drop during the outbreak until a low of just 150,000 visitors in May. The financial ramifications are huge. 

Bingo halls and bookmakers closed down
As the lockdown came into effect bingo halls and bookmakers closed their doors. Although many casinos will be able to bounce back, the same can not be said for bingo halls with Buzz Bingo announcing it will close 26 of it’s halls putting nearly 600 jobs at risk.
With no sporting events running there was little for bookmakers to offer their customers but regardless they were forced to close their shops too for an unknown period. Many independent shops have been unable to reopen and even the large chains have been unable to weather the financial fallout. William Hill in the UK has announced that it will close 119 shops despite actually being in profit. The fear is that even after the lockdown people will remain cautious of travel and continue to practise self imposed social distancing.

Sporting events
Many sporting arenas and events were cancelled and postponed. The English Premier League was suspended along with major leagues across the world. Horse racing was cancelled meaning that the on course Totes were closed too. Even with online betting available there was a lack of events to actually place any bets on. 

Online entertainment
The knock on effect from being forced to self isolate was that online traffic increased massively. Streaming sites like Netflix and Amazon offered free trials to entice people to sign up. In the first quarter alone Netflix added 16 million new subscribers as people sought out home entertainment.
Along with people using UberEats, Amazon and other sites to order in food and goods to avoid travel there were also record searches for online casinos. Google records show more people searching for online casinos during April 2020 than ever before in the UK and the rest of the world showed similar trends. Australia reported a 67% rise in online gambling and that is not including online casinos which are illegal there. 

Online casinos
So while the traditional gambling industry has suffered a huge blow during 2020, online gambling has increased beyond predictions. Accurate financial reports are not surprisingly hard to find but the online market is expected to grow from $59 billion to $67 billion. However that figure has not taken into account the length of the lockdown, social distancing and operating restrictions. There is of course the very real likelihood that many online players will no longer return to brick and mortar locations to play their favourite games. 

Live casinos
Live dealer casinos have started to become more popular. A live dealer or live casino is where actual dealers are employed to run the game and are displayed on your screen via the casinos webcam. In the event of you being unable to visit a traditional casino you can still have a form of human interaction with a real life dealer in these casinos. The dealer cannot see you but they can communicate with you and some players may prefer this to the many distractions in a land based casino. 

Other factors
Covid-19 has forced many people to stay inside for an unusual length of time and seek out other forms of entertainment. The fact that many users of online casinos are first time players from this lockdown period could mean that they have no intention of ever going into a real bookmaker or casino. Some people may find bookmakers intimidating and they might be unsure of how to place bets. Others may just not have the means to travel to a traditional casino.
Other players who have traditionally visited brick and mortar locations may now decide that the convenience of gambling at home outweighs any benefits that visiting a casino can offer. If this happens then the traditional gambling industry may never fully return to the numbers it saw before. 

Why choose online against traditional gambling
There are many reasons why the online casino and gambling industry is taking a large chunk of the market apart from the Covid-19 effect. There are a large variety of games on offer like roulette, poker and slots like twin spin. You can receive sign on bonuses and there are a few distractions like drunk people and loud music. Of course the main one is simply convenience at not having to travel anywhere to play.
You don’t need to dress up to play in an online casino. They never close so you can play your favourite games at any hour of the day and on any day of the year if you like. If you don’t like one casino you are using, well you can just logout and visit another one without moving from your armchair. 

No doubt the gambling industry as a whole will bounce back but it remains to be seen whether it will reach the same heights as before as high streets look deserted and shops are boarded up. Meanwhile the online gambling market continues to grow and shows no signs of slowing down as yet.