Will COVID-19 Change the Betting Industry?

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Created on Monday, 28 September 2020

Will COVID-19 Change the Betting Industry?COVID-19 has significantly changed the betting industry, at least for the short term. Casinos in the United States were shuttered with the advent of the lockdowns in March. They slowly reopened beginning in June, but a variety of restrictions still apply.

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Spread of Legal Sports Betting

At the same time, legal sports betting in the United States has been steadily increasing. States have been approving the practice since the Supreme Court struck down Nevada’s monopoly on sports betting in 2018. Currently, 18 states allow the practice, with four more in the process of implementation.

In 14 states, online sports betting is allowed, a huge growth industry led by DraftKings and FanDuel, among others. While brick-and-mortar establishments are facing COVID-19-related headwinds, no such issues exist in the online space. 

 

If anything, the barriers to visits to casinos and the convenience of online betting would create more opportunities.

Nevada Travel Impacts

For the six months ending in July 2020, gaming activity in Nevada was down almost 55% from 2019. While that isn’t surprising, given the shutdowns, what’s important is whether casinos can rebound in the coming months. Unlike Native American Tribal casinos, which cater to a more local base, Nevada is also impacted by travel limitations.

 

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Just under 50% of all visitors to Las Vegas arrive by air. This includes many arriving to attend the 22,000 meetings held each year in the city, the highest in the nation. In July 2020 alone, Las Vegas recorded no convention visitors, down from 498,800 in July 2019.

 

COVID-19 has severely impacted travel, with airlines struggling to reach even a third of pre-pandemic passenger levels. As people become less accustomed to air travel and find other forms of entertainment, the future of destinations like Las Vegas remains in doubt.

 

People interested in gambling are, by nature, more prone to taking risks than participants in other forms of entertainment. Limiting social interactions to make customers feel safer is very risky on the part of the industry. It flies in the face of the inherent appeal of the activity in which people want to engage.

 

The speed with which the physical gambling establishments return to some pre-pandemic normal will influence their longer-term viability. Gambling is a discretionary activity that is meant to be entertaining and a vehicle for diversion from life’s problems. Injecting too much reality into the experience not only detracts from it but defeats the purpose of getting away.

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Online Betting the Key to Growth

While Las Vegas struggles in its recovery, online sports betting is expected to continue its growth.

 

It’s expected to see annual gains of almost 10% through 2024, a figure that’s dependent on regulatory approvals. Yet to be determined is the level of organic growth, outside of the addition of allowed locations or audiences.

 

COVID-19 already has and will continue to impact the betting industry. For physical establishments, the effects have been overwhelmingly negative and probably will continue for a period of time. 


The online betting industry had benefited from people staying at home, and that should continue. The longer-term impacts on the industry will depend on how quickly normalcy can resume. In the meantime, get familiar with online betting outlets and take a look at where to bet on sports.

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