As all others, the UK economy has experienced significant and long-lasting impacts from the coronavirus crisis. Every industry from the hospitality to the retail, education and entertainment has had to change and adapt in these trying times. The gambling industry like all others have felt the impact of the coronavirus which resulted in massive lockdown in March.
CHANGES DUE TO TROUBLE TIMES
With many of the betting shops, bingo halls and land-based casinos closing down players had no other option but to enjoy their gaming activities online. This also resulted in the United Kingdom Gambling Commission releasing new guidelines for gambling operators to follow.
These included a ban on reverse withdrawals which enabled gamblers to change their mind once they have requested to remove their funds from their online account. With reverse withdrawals players can stop the withdrawals and keep playing with the funds instead. While it has its advantages, it could also encourage problem gambling behaviours.
The new guidelines set in place are purely to help prevent more from developing gambling problems and protect those who already have gambling problems. According to the new guidelines' operators are not allowed to offer bonuses, promotions or other incentives to players who are showing signs of problem gambling. This includes looking for players who play for longer than an hour and engaging with them to see if there is something to be concerned about.
THE CHANGES IN PLAYING GAMEPLAY
Gambling activities that drive up to 50% of the industry’s revenue have been put on hold and as such changes have been put in place to respond to changes in consumer demand and adapt to the current circumstances.
One of the biggest changes in gambling activity has been the participation in the sports betting sector. Sports betting has essentially come to a complete standstill with most of the sport events cancelled or postponed around the UK and other regions in the world.
In comparison to March last year the betting numbers for event bets has decreased by 31%. According to sources this figure would have been considerably lower if it had not been for the Cheltenham Festival in March. The festival is considered one of the most popular horse racing events in the world and took place just before lockdown measures were implemented in the UK. This time of year, the number of bets made at this time increases rapidly thanks to the event.
The belief is that even after lockdown measures are relaxed a great deal of sporting and entertainment events won’t return to normal immediately. The main reason being that large crowds of people standing in close proximity to each other could lead to a second spike in the spread of the virus.
Other European countries have already restarted their sporting events of which one is the German football league, the Bundesliga. While fans weren't able to attend the stadiums, they could stream the match from their homes. Closed door sporting events are now an option being explored by many in the UK sporting industry.
The land-based gambling figures have seen a massive decrease as the number of people playing in UK online casinos have skyrocketed. According to statistics 64% of online players have increased the amount they spent or the time spent online during the crisis.
The research numbers also show that about 41% of those who visited land-based gambling venues have opened an online casino account during lockdown.
In response gambling operators has followed the new guidelines and started removing advertising from television and radio for the duration of lockdown. The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) also stated that any slot advertisements will be filled with messages encouraging responsible gambling behaviours.
Camelot, UK lottery giant, has redirected some of its charitable funds in order to help the UK manage and recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The company is known for its weekly contributions of £30 million to good causes in the UK.
ONLINE THE NEW NORMAL?
The big question remains what the future will bring for both online and offline casino operators post lockdown. While there are no clear answers the statistics indicated many UK players will continue to gamble online.
While the online casino industry continues to grow there could be some major downfall for the land-based casinos. Especially with social distancing that has become part of the ‘normal’ way of life in the UK. While recovery is in progress it will be a long time before industries and events return to normal.