Difficult Futures: Thousands of Casino Employees Out of Work From Lockdowns, Online Gambling ‘Silver Lining’ for Some
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread through the world’s population, with a confirmed million people now infected with the pneumonia-causing respiratory disease, casino operators and workers are feeling the effects just as much as anyone else in the economy.
This week, Caesar’s became the latest large operator to announce huge furloughs of its staff, with up to 90% of workers at its shuttered physical casinos laid off until the pandemic situation is over. Even then, there are no guarantees they will all be rehired.
In the casino hub of Atlantic City, 16,000 people have also been laid off already.
“COVID-19 has and will continue to have a tremendous financial impact on our team and business, resulting in incredibly difficult decisions made now and in the future,” said the president of Hard Rock Hotel Atlantic City, pointing to possible permanent redundancies down the line.
Ocean Casino reportedly took a similar stance, which does not rule out future cuts. However, both venues have granted staff two weeks of further pay, plus any unspent holiday they may have accrued.
Meanwhile, Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson has told staff he intends to pay them all right up until casinos reopen.
Hopefully, these actions will prevent too many casino staff from having to join the millions of people across the USA filing for unemployment over the past weeks.
However, as other companies have suggested in the opening weeks of the pandemic, some big players in the online gambling market are feeling more confident.
The owner of Unibet, Kindred, is expected to announce an improved revenue of ~£250 million in Q1 2020—that’s up on Q1 2019’s £225 million—at the end of April.
That’s because the massive disruption to sporting events and betting was “partially compensated by solid growth in revenues from other products.”
The group’s CEO Henrik Tjärnström was also feeling confident in his latest statement, telling reports he was expecting “sports activities to gradually resume during or after the summer.” He also added that he believed “social and behavioral changes are already happening that will accelerate the migration from offline to online.”
Will this increased short-term custom be sustainable in the future if the world sees the much predicted global economic downturn that’s looming over the coronavirus-speckled horizon?
Operators all over the world are continuing to sign new contracts and expand their offerings. This may be a ray of hope, showing that many companies aren’t anticipating a precipitous fall in demand.
For example, this week, regulators in Europe gave the OK for new license applications in the Greek online casino market, and dozens of operators filed for their cut of the pie within hours of the announcement.
With each license expected to cost around €3 million for a ten-year deal, any application wouldn’t have been a cheap and unconsidered outlay for online operators given the current climate.
This demonstrates investor confidence that there will still be an online gambling market in Europe once this pandemic is confined to the history books.
That also means a potential 30 million for the Greek government. It comes even as the country’s state-backed operator, OPAP, Europe’s fourth-biggest gambling firm, announced a shocking 99% fall in revenue after it was forced to close all 4,000 of its betting stores in the country.
“I am confident that OPAP will bounce back strongly once this unfortunate period comes to an end,” said Chief Executive Officer Damien Cope, who is due to stand down from his role later this April.
Keep checking our pages for the latest updates on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting gambling companies, employees, and gamblers themselves during this difficult time.