Will COVID-19 Change the Face of Online Gambling?

The online gambling world could change beyond recognition post-COVID-19. The lockdown situation has led to many switching from live casinos or card rooms to the virtual felt.

By: Mark Patrickson

Many players have also returned from a break with little else to occupy themselves during the long days.

After the lockdown began in March, traffic figures for online poker hit a five-year high. Online casinos saw similar increases but obviously sports betting was hit hard with almost nothing left to bet on except the likes of Russian table tennis and sumo wrestling.

Can online gambling maintain this increase in popularity?

Right now the World Series of Poker is underway on WSOP.com with GGPoker ready to start their schedule on 17th July. The WPT World Championship Online kicks off this Saturday with more than $100 million in prize money on offer.

With prestigious events such as these being showcased it should be possible to keep some momentum in the online poker industry. Media interest is at a high level and should keep the wheels turning nicely.

It’s not all roses though, because the European segregated market - France, Spain, and Portugal are reportedly back to pre-lockdown levels with Italy now showing an overall decrease over the last six months.

Eager to Fight

Poker forums are showing an increased interest in poker training. It seems with so much going on right now casual players have enough motivation to start working on their game and making sure they are on the best site for their needs.

Sites such as PokerVIP.com and BeastsOfPoker that offer both instruction and site reviews are invaluable for casual players.

The US Online Gambling Market

The US online gambling market is an interesting situation. There has been a nine year struggle to fully legalise online poker but still only a few states have passed the legislation.

The marketplace is still young and ripe for the right companies to come in and grow the industry.

Only a week ago behemoths GVC - owners of partypoker - and MGM Resorts increased their investment into a joint venture called Roar Digital by $250 million. It was mooted that they plan to dominate the market within five years.

With already $200 million put into the project in 2018 we can tell they are serious about the potential of online gambling in the country.

GVC CEO Kenny Alexander said that the partnership was prepared to spend as much as it takes to dominate the likes of DraftKings.

Could there be a danger that online poker in the US starts to get ignored because of how lucrative sports betting and casinos are?

According to Bonusfinder, the licensed gambling companies seem to focus more on the sports betting side of online gambling in the US. Some of them push online casinos on top of the betting, but the licensed online poker offering is still too humble. They expect it to catch up within the next couple of years.

Matthew Carr, Chief Trends Strategist for The Oxford Club, talks about:

“...a potential $150 billion industry no one’s talking about. We’re seeing one of the greatest gaming expansions in the U.S. in more than 20 years.”

He continues to estimate that over the next five years 36 out of 50 states will have fully legalised gambling.

This is obviously great news but there are still no guarantees that Americans will ever be able to play against players outside of the country again.

For now we will have to be happy with the figures we are starting to see. The New Jersey Division of Gambling Enforcement reported that out of the $95.8 million worth of gaming revenue taken in May 2020 $85.9 million came from online gambling.

This is in comparison to the $38.3 million generated in May 2019. A whopping increase of 124.1%. Also the $14.2 million in taxes that was taken inMay 2020 won’t have gone unnoticed by politicians looking to increase their budgets.

There’s lots to think about with online gambling during 2020. A lot can change once the world opens up for business again. The news coming out of the US is positive for the future, even if it is a few years away.

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