COVID-19 and The Casino Industry In The US

Casino chips on a computer screen


Although it first began all the way back in 2019, the economic shockwaves of the COVID-19 pandemic are still only beginning to appear. With the US leading the global tables in both the total number of cases and deaths, the future looks very uncertain for the US economy.

While it is true that all industries and sectors have been hard hit by the pandemic and the subsequent government-mandated lockdowns, there is no denying that some industries have been harder hit than others. The entertainment industry in particular has been particularly impacted, with attendance restrictions looking like they might be in place for quite some time.

One sector of the entertainment industry that has been particularly impacted by the pandemic is the casino industry. Restrictions on the numbers that can be admitted at any one time make casinos uniquely unviable in these circumstances – with casinos traditionally requiring a high footfall of customers to break even. But restrictions on domestic and international travel have also cut off casinos from one of their core customer bases. This has presented a particularly difficult climate for land-based casinos to operate in. With fears of a second wave rising as we head into the long winter months, things are looking very uncertain for the industry as a whole.

In the midst of all this, what is the current state of the casino industry, and what does the future look like it might hold?

Firstly, in terms of the economic impact of the pandemic on the industry, the picture looks somewhat bleak. Casinos in the US employ around 500,000 workers each year. Many of these have been made unemployed indefinitely due to a decrease in consumer demand. Additionally, with unemployment rising across the US more generally, there has been a relative decrease in consumer spending as a whole – with the casino industry particularly hard hit as a result. If land-based casinos are required to close up once again, the economic impact would be significant and we can expect to see further job losses.

Secondly, in terms of the longer-term trends in the casino industry, if the pandemic continues to rage, we can expect to see an increase in people choosing online casinos over land-based ones. In recent months, Canada-focused and similar portals have undoubtedly posted significant increases in the numbers of new users signing up to their platforms. More than likely, many of these new sign-ups have come directly as a result of land-based casino closures, with gambling fans having to switch to online casinos to get their fix. As a result of this surge in players signing up to online casino websites, it appears that the pandemic has accelerated a trend that had been gradually building in the industry for some time now. As such, land-based casinos have lost thousands of players over the last number of years to online casino gaming platforms.

In light of this, it seems like there is a very real chance that the pandemic will bring about long-term change in online gambling legislation and in the US industry as a whole. What it will look like when the pandemic finally ends seems far from certain.

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