COVID VS GAMBLING: Is There Still Life After Quarantine?

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COVID VS GAMBLING:  Is There Still Life After Quarantine? December 29, 2020

Probably, only the lazy one did not pose the question — is there still life after quarantine? What will be the new world? And what lessons have we learned so generously provided us in 2020?

When the whole world is «put on pause», most of the events are canceled for an uncertain period. The gambling industry has also passed through a range of changes and transformations. Gambling sites learn how to adapt to new realities — searching for alternative ways, how to maintain and attract users’ interest, be able to compete and be «one step ahead» while progressing their technological effectiveness. In this situation, it is important to maintain a balance — to hold the gamblers’ interest taking measures to minimize the losses from the gambling impact on the psychological and financial situation of users in the light that they are «imprisoned».

The 2020 year is ambiguous for all areas of activity. Due to the lockdown and the governmental restrictions, some games have become inaccessible due to the lack of public events, while others are experiencing their heyday and attract more and more new players and resources. 

In this article, we will make clear how the gambling industry feels during these turbulent times and how gambling operators have adopted alternative business models to keep themselves afloat.

The first and the most important fact that is worth taking into account is that gambling has currently moved to the online sphere. As a preventive measure to stop the coronavirus, casinos and bookmaker offices are closed to the public. For gambling fans, online slots have become almost the only way to test their luck. Also, during the self-isolation period, people have much free leisure, which prompts them to visit the gambling platforms more often that is now available 24/7. The psycho-emotional condition during the crisis, financial instability, lack of work, these and other factors, induce the desire to be involved.

The weak points of gambling operators 

The epidemic has caused a negative impact on all countries worldwide, including those that have abandoned the strict quarantine measures. CASEXE conducted a survey of 50 gambling companies all over Europe and the CIS countries. This study detected several common challenges for game operators in 2020.

 1. Legal turmoil. 

To overcome the lockdown consequences governments of a range of countries have changed the current legislation and imposed strict measures. This had a substantial impact on the gambling industry: regulators canceled the existing licenses, lowered the limits of gamblers’ deposits, restricted the advertising activities, etc. The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has recommended to all operators a new guide of safe online gambling and smart advertising. The new proposal was supported by the associations of a number of European countries. This document introduces rules for gambling advertising, which forbid to use it as a way to solve personal financial and social problems.

 2. Increased competition. 

Online gambling is a tasty chunk of the gambling industry with unlimited prospects, especially in the light of offline establishments closure. New gamblers arrive nonstop, and the digital sector is becoming even more competitive. To hold the leading positions, you have to invest such funds in business development that is equal to half of the estimated revenue. But market analysis shows that leading operators still hold their positions.

3. Ways to deal with a gambling addiction.

Responsible gambling is the guiding principle of the legal activities for all gambling operators worldwide. They also post links to independent organizations that support gamblers with gambling addiction. 

Gamblers with a sick addiction are carried by:

  • Gamblers Anonymous
  • Gambling Therapy
  • BeGambleAware
  • The Responsible Gambling Trust

However, under self-isolation circumstances these measures are not enough, so the gambling sites have adapted new methods. For example, they don’t deal with problematic gamblers and impose limits on their deposits. Another current trend is a self-exclusion system when players can independently include their name in the blacklist of an online casino to exclude the possibility of access to the gaming site completely. GamStop is a service in the UK that nowadays counts more than 50,000 names.

4. Fraud. 

For casinos, the problem of fraud is constant. And 85% of global operators distinguish the bonus hunters — to get a quick win such gamblers hunt for bonus offers from online casinos. Fraud is also noted among others. All attempts of the foul game intensified in the crisis year. Operators invest big money in the more talented specialists to implement smart technologies. These include biometric identity verification using a face scan or fingerprint.

 5. Problems with payment systems. 

Against the general quarantine measures, most operators noticed a strengthening of policies from regulatory and financial institutions. Banks strengthen the restriction policy and propose various methods to disconnect casinos. They also keep the right to stop serving «questionable establishments». Also, most operators note the growth of payment system commissions for gambling platforms.

 New technologies in the gambling industry

During unpredictable isolation, the faster way to find new emotions is to immerse in the virtual world. The number of players at the online poker tables has increased significantly. Virtual casinos have also grown since the beginning of 2020 from 13% to 17%. Technological progress has become a necessary measure: more new formats, more game disciplines, and slots. The audience demands to expand the supply and meet the demand. The niche has already experienced several changes, and this trend will go forward.

Representatives of the Gambling Craft company note that users increased their demand for gambling platforms aside from forms of investment. Customers want to play legally in licensed casinos; they demand an enlarged portfolio of slots, more flexible bonus program, regular tournaments, and other promotions, as well as competent technical support 24/7. The technologically more progressive gambling sites have become more popular. 

The following promising areas of activity are:

Mobile gambling 

This sector continues its rapid growth. For gambling sites, it means potential new players. «Research and Markets» Analysts estimate the global gambling market in 2020 at $ 79.5 billion. According to forecasts, by 2027, the market will grow up to $ 250.4 billion. At the same time, the share of mobile traffic in the industry is 42.6%. And this indicator demonstrates stable growth. Already, some gambling operators claim that mobile traffic covers the major part of their companies’ income.

VR technologies

It is a system of augmented and virtual reality that stimulates online casinos’ development. In 2021, half of the online betting will come from gambling, according to a study by Juniper Research. Analysts are confident that VR games can completely replace 3D slots in the coming years.

Artificial Intelligence 

This is one of the most promising but risky areas for investing. There are some of the main areas where artificial intelligence is most relevant: 

  1. The service quality improvement. It will be much easier and faster to offer players personalized bonuses and promotions, taking into account their personal preferences.
  2. To protect gambling sites from swindlers and fraud. For operators, it will be much easier to identify customers using bots and quickly eliminate them with the help of artificial intelligence.
  3. To detect gambling addiction among clients at an early stage. Artificial intelligence will help analyze the game statistics of all clients and identify troublesome players in time.

The algorithms of unique neural networks will make users service automated — bots will effectively solve most of the problems, reducing human resources efforts. 

But the most important thing is that artificial intelligence will allow us to keep users by studying their behaviour and generate directly such offers that will surely keep them on the site.

Blockchain technologies

Cryptocurrency is a unique payment method that allows users to make fast deposits and withdrawals and keep remaining anonymous. Today many operators offer their players the opportunity to use cryptocurrencies. There are separate poker rooms on blockchain platforms, and this trend will probably go forward. But despite the apparent advantages of this digital system, analysts note that the share of the cryptocurrency will increase gradually, but it won’t replace the classical methods of payment.

The global crisis has tested every business. However, online gambling did not just hold out but expanded its niche even greater. For evident reasons, offline establishments are not available. That’s why the online platform continues to get new clients. The statistics use surgical precision when notices a massive increase in online players every day.

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