Upsides and Downturns: Coronavirus May be Shutting Physical Casinos, but Online Casinos and eSports May See Massive Boosts

Author Thomas Wolf
March 20, 2020 3 min read

As the world’s total number of confirmed Covid19 coronavirus infections passed 200,000 this week, with over 8,000 dead and a further 7,000 in critical care, things are looking pretty grim for many sectors of the world economy, including gambling.

Coronavirus shutting land based casinos

However, as usual in times of crisis, there are some economic and social positives. 

This is especially true in this case, as people on lockdown and in isolation drastically alter their behaviours, and communities come together to tackle our collective problem. 

Steady Sources

For example, earlier this week, the PC gaming platform Steam registered a record-high 20 million concurrent online users. Over 1 million of them were playing Counter-Strike Go, which is a popular e-sport.

“Esports has the potential to fill a programming gap,” said Kevin Klowden of the Milken Institute Center for Regional Economics.

He went on to state that “even though many Esports leagues have encouraged and developed live venues, they will be able to adapt and function without them and provide a steady source of content and income even under the current restrictions.”

This could be good news for online betting companies that offer e-sports wagers.

But it’s not only e-sports that can fill a gap when people are spending more time indoors, and traditional venues are closed—online casinos could also see a massive boost.

“Revenue from online casinos should help fill in the gaps, at least in part, while sportsbooks and land-based casinos feel the impact from COVID-19,” said one industry spokesman from Pennsylvania, where online casinos have recently posted bumper February revenues.

Meanwhile, in Europe, Live Casino supplier BetConstruct has even offered to broker cut-price deals with locked-down casinos across Europe. This could help them set up live streaming services of their games for loyal customers.

“Our solution takes into account all peculiarities of an existing land-based venue, meaning we can provide personalized propositions to help you benefit to the maximum in the current situation,” said a company statement.

However, in the UK, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission warned operators that they “must continue to act responsibly” during the current crisis—and it even issued a new set of guidelines covering its advice.

Community Spirit

It seems that physical casinos in the USA are already taking the situation seriously.

While they may be increasingly shuttered across the States, from Massachusetts to even the famous Las Vegas in Nevada, land-based casino operators have been setting aside some of that rainy day money to help their local communities as we prepare for this global emergency.

MGM Casinos across the USA have collectively donated thousands of pounds of provisions to food banks and schools in their local areas.

Las Vegas Sands (the owners of the Venetian and the Palazzo in Vegas) has donated $250,000 to local charities supporting those in need of shelter and supplies to self-isolate.

Native American tribal casino owners have been doing the same. One example is the Rincon tribe, owners of Harrah’s casino in southern California, who donated truckloads of goods to local food banks on Tuesday.

Casino owners haven’t forgotten their workers, either, with many casinos in Atlantic City offering three weeks or more of paid leave to full time, part-time, and contracted staff.

It remains to be seen how most of Vegas’ biggest players will handle paying staff during this pandemic situation that may last for months.

MGM reportedly told staff in a letter this week that they “deeply regret the strain [this enforced shutdown] will cause families and our community partners, and we will do all we can to mitigate it.”

The measures could see staff get full sick pay until a decision about layoffs is made (if it comes to that), and then a further two weeks afterwards.

It has been reported that some lower-paid staff may receive further benefits until as far away as June if the situation remains serious.

Hopefully, other casino owners will follow suit, offering some security during the uncertain days ahead for workers in all industries around the world.

Keep checking these pages for more updates on how the ongoing Covid19 pandemic is affecting the gambling industry and other gambling news.

Author Thomas Wolf


Thomas Wolf

396 articles

Thomas Wolf is our editor in chief. With an extensive background in online gambling (both working for casino operators and game studios) as well as an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, he's a proper authority on online casinos. When not running the day to day operations or reviewing new operators Thomas is a blackjack aficionado with some seriously big wins recorded at land-based casinos in both Las Vegas, Monaco and Macau.
Coronavirus shutting land based casinos