The COVID-19 pandemic had and still has a massive impact on everyone’s physical and mental health, as well as the world economy. This economic downturns impact was definitely felt throughout all of the social classes, and we are still struggling to recover. In fact, 40% of the US dollars ever printed were printed in the year 2020, for the purposes of weathering the COVID crisis. This caused the price of oil to go up and consequently everything else increased in price, as oil is used for energy and production.
However, in some instances, a crisis can help certain industries thrive, so it’s not always that bad. This time around gambling industry was affected in both positive and negative ways.
Let’s see how these economic downturns manifested in Ireland and its online gambling industry.
1. How It All Started
Back in November 2019, nobody could predict just how massive this whole thing will turn out to be. We heard about the cases of a virus spreading and that it’s important to take extra precautions like masks and washing hands, but lockdowns on a global scale were not mentioned. Unfortunately, the virus became a big problem and at the start of 2020, one by one, countries went into lockdown.
The same happened with Ireland and they announced a total lockdown, which also meant no more gambling. Sports betting operators could no longer accommodate customers and to add insult to injury there were no sports events happening at this time. So even if they had online sports betting options the activity was significantly reduced. With no horse racing and football, bettors in Ireland weren’t really interested in wagering their money.
Another big problem that had an impact on the casino industry as well, was the unemployment rate. Luxurious casinos are an expensive form of entertainment and they also rely on tourists, without jobs and with a travel ban in place, no one was even thinking about going to a big casino. That being said, the same cannot be said for gambling overall. One thing that we did see during the pandemic is that people were actually trying to somehow multiply the amount of money they had or their stimulus checks. As a result, a lot of funds went into the purchase of cryptocurrencies, but also to online gambling.
3. Online Gambling was Booming
Without a job and without the ability to go outside and have fun, people were really bored. Moreover, there were no sports events that they could bet on, so they started exploring other forms of entertainment. All of this culminated into all-time high traffic on online casino sites in Ireland and the UK. Users were claiming bonuses and free spins for slots in online Irish casinos on a daily basis and trying out different platforms. Although this was a good sign for online casinos, it also led to a general concern, due to the possibility of irresponsible spending during the crisis.
4. Most Played Games
Another interesting thing that could be noticed during this gambling craze was that the trend of slots continued. Most of the casino revenue comes from slot games and their gaming library also mostly consists of slots. Evidently, even brand-new players were playing the best online slots that are available on these sites, and even picking operators based on their slot selection. So, we should ask ourselves why are these new players choosing slots? There are a few explanations that explain this phenomenon
First of all, these are the most profitable games for a casino and as a result, they are marketed the most. Second, most of the welcome offers or bonuses give free spins which also steer the players in this direction. Third, this game does not require extensive knowledge or skill, it’s pretty straight forward and anyone can play it. Finally, slots with progressive jackpots offer life-changing prizes, and people are willing to test their luck on those. This is because they know their worries will be over should they hit the jackpot.
5. New Opportunities
The gambling industry plays a huge part in Ireland’s economy and because its online branch remained profitable throughout the crisis, other governments took note. So, some geographies started re-evaluating their position on online gambling as they now saw it as additional tax revenue and a chance to create more jobs when they desperately need it. That being said, online operators were aware that this surge in users was temporary.
As sports were beginning to come back to life the user base once again shifted back to its primary hobby of sports betting. That being said, this influx of new users is also expected to drive innovation within the online gambling industry. This means additional games, as well as bonuses that are more appealing to a wider player base.
Even if online casinos had a “good pandemic” it doesn’t mean they want it to continue. In an economic downturns crisis almost everyone loses, and having an unstable situation doesn’t benefit much. We have also seen that whoever profited from the pandemic was antagonized on social media, so there were some negative comments directed towards gambling as well. The situation also revealed the importance of online business, and many land-based operators across the world have decided to join the club and go digital as well.