Do Land Casinos Still Matter?

The year 2020 was the year that live entertainment came to a complete standstill. Around the world, concert halls, football stadiums, nightclubs, bars, and land-based casinos closed their doors. Some of them shut up shop for just a few weeks or months, but for others, this was the end of the line for good. With people jumping online to seek alternative options such as online casinos, or grabbing their own poker sets for clandestine games along with their pod, it really posed the question – do we even need land casinos?

But as the months wore on, the patience ran out and the novelty of the situation we were in ran thin. And even though we were still wary of Covid, that entertainment and travel bug got the better of us. And we decided it was time to hit up our old haunts and get in on the action again on the gaming floor.

Land casinos are back, baby.

The Effects of Covid on the Casino Industry

We’re all still feeling the effects of Covid on our lives, whether it’s lingering effects or a missing person, or perhaps friends and relatives overseas who are still struggling with lockdowns and work issues.

As the world closed down in early 2020, the entertainment industry was one of the hardest hit. Land casinos shuttered, their flashing bright lights and communal tables a prime breeding ground for community transmission. Depending on their location, they had to close up for months at a time.

Now, we’re not used to feeling sorry for casino operators, but as Vegas turned into a ghost town and Macau buckled down, we did feel sorry for the people who worked at these jobs. Croupiers, bartenders, bouncers, floor staff, cleaners, performers – all these people were suddenly out of work, unable to do their jobs from home.

The casino industry itself in the United States plunged over 30% in 2020, with revenues in April and May of 2020 (peak closure time) coming in at under $500 million for the first time in a very long time.

And as Covid wore on, a sense of wanting to be safe and stay home turned into a sense of intense longing for these activities we used to enjoy.

The Rise in Online Gambling

Over the course of Covid, people were at a loss of how to fill the new expanses of time afforded to them. For gamblers, not having access to casinos to win real money was a no-brainer – seek out online casinos instead. These casinos also came to the party, offering free spins and no deposit bonuses. However, for general non-gamblers, they also turned to online casino play for a new entertainment option. In a world where the only options for entertainment were what’s around your house, what’s on your screen, and the ever-exciting trip to the grocery store, new stimulations were sought out. After all, there’s only so much banana bread you can bake and podcasts you can listen to.

Online gambling was already “expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.5% from 2020 to 2027,” according to the Online Gambling Market report by Grand View Research. In 2020 instead, it simply exploded.

The Reopening of Casinos (and Countries)

As the world has started to open up again, we’ve stepped out with a sense of seeing things with new eyes. We’re excited by things that we might have been dulled to over the years – whether it’s a long leisurely walk without a mask, heading down to the local bar, dining out, or (yes, you guessed it) going to the casino.

In countries where entertainment options have opened up again, they’ve seen huge attendances – even if social distancing, Covid testing, or even vaccination are required. People’s appetites for new (aka old) stimulation are through the roof. And where travel is permitted? You can bet that people are taking those opportunities after a year of being starved of the option.

Travel to Greece has skyrocketed, with more US interest in travel than ever before now that it’s opened. Festivals in England are selling out. And Vegas? It’s back, with bookings galore, employment recovering significantly and wages even up by 2%.

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All Signs Point to Vegas

Vegas is open baby, and you know what that means? That means Americans are hitting the town in droves. With exciting experiences at the ready and only limited options for international travel, Vegas is proving to be a big drawcard for the masses.

Steve Aoki is playing, the NHL Stanley Cup is being played, punters are returning to the tables, and the new Empathy Suite at the Palms – available for an eye-watering $100,000 a night – is open for business.

Casinos are concentrating on people wanting to lap up the good life for a while, as they have saved cash to spend (for those who kept their jobs), an appetite for entertainment, and a driving need to have fun. The effects of Covid on land casinos will abate after a while, instead returning to regular levels. But until then, casinos who can provide the entertainment are laughing.

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What’s Going to Happen to the Online Gambling Market?

Online gambling may have its peak patronage to date during Covid, but that’s not to say that it’s peaked as a pastime. While we’re likely to see numbers drop off a bit, it will unlikely ever return quite to pre-Covid levels. Instead, we’ll see both the frequency of play and amount of new players stats return to similar growth rates before all this.

While it was bananas for online casino operators for a time there, they’ll have forecast a return to normalcy at some time – and probably picked up some lessons along the way. The prognosis for this industry is also bright, with screen time now extremely big business – during Covid, the average user spent 4.3 hours a day on their device.

Land based and online casinos are significantly different in that they don’t really encroach on each other’s territory too much. And while Covid flipped the tables there for a little while, we’re likely to see a return to (almost) normal.

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