The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has caused chaos internationally, across the world’s stock markets, sporting competitions, and even the world of leisure and entertainment. Its impact is being felt by everybody, in one way or another.
Of course, the nature of the virus’s spread means different countries are getting to grips with it at different times. And what would eventually become known as Covid-19 was first identified in Wuhan, China as far back as December 2019.
The nation recorded its first death from the virus less than two weeks later, before instances in Japan and Thailand were traced. And the crisis spiraled from there, as authorities in USA, Nepal, France, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan all confirmed cases in the days that followed.
To date, more than 3,100 people in Hubei, China have died from the coronavirus, as well as more than 5,000 in Spain and more than 9,000 in Italy. More than 607,000 total cases have been confirmed around the world. The numbers are rising in countless other countries and governments are racing to put measures in place to contain the pandemic.
It is a scary time for many and especially for the most vulnerable in society, while business owners and those who are self-employed are having to adapt and work harder than ever before to make ends meet, both for the company and its staff.
One industry feeling the impact of coronavirus is the gambling industry, which must adhere to the new regulations being imposed dictating which businesses are allowed to remain open, as part of measures to prevent unnecessary travel and socializing that could spread the virus.
In Australia, casino operator Star Entertainment has been forced to stand down more than 8,000 staff members due to new social distancing rules. The firm has had to totally shut down its operations in major cities including Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
Steps are being taken in America too, with the Native American casino industry in particular feeling the impact of the lockdowns being imposed. The industry has requested $18bn in federal aid to help them through the difficult period. It’s perhaps more of an acute issue in this sector as many of the casinos exist as the sole source of income for Native American communities.
The shutdown of casino operations around the world and the anticipated closure of many more are clearly having a major effect on the industry, with stocks being hit dramatically and little known about how the economy will recover in the months, or even the years ahead.
Empty casinos, quiet streets & closure signs. The Las Vegas Strip isn’t the same without people to enjoy the neon nights. It has been a few days since @GovSisolak ordered Nevada casinos & nonessential businesses to shut their doors. But, we’ll be back. #StayHome4NV
— FOX5 Las Vegas (@FOX5Vegas) March 22, 2020
A hope online
However, casino gambling is one of many industries to have embraced the possibilities of online consumption, and many of the industry’s brands with operations on the internet could in fact seize an opportunity to engage with new players, as we have seen with online brands across a variety of sectors.
Gambling restrictions differ from country to country, while the shutdowns of many of the world’s top sporting competitions and showpiece events like the Olympics and Euro 2021 have also fallen by the wayside as the world works collaboratively to curb the crisis.
The lack of major sporting action naturally limits the betting markets available -although esports remain largely unaffected by the pandemic- while facilities like virtual sports betting also become more valuable as providers scramble to offer their regular customers something to engage with.
Earlier this month, we asked all travellers to self-isolate when they returned to Canada. Today, we are making this isolation mandatory under the Quarantine Act to better protect our most vulnerable. pic.twitter.com/bKLdKh4mEu
— Patty Hajdu (@PattyHajdu) March 25, 2020
But it’s perhaps online casino games, like blackjack, roulette and online slots, that offer the best chance for the casino industry as a whole to ride out the current global crisis. And it’s times like these when introductory offers to new customers become even more important.
Casino websites, poker rooms, bingo sites and bookmakers use such welcome offers to engage with new players who haven’t played games with them before. Offers include free bets or money back if your first bet loses, which means new players don’t have to worry about staking any money to sample the provider in question’s offering. Another popular method to appeal to new players is free spins and free online slots, which come in thousands of different themes. Whether it’s online-only slots or more traditional pastimes like poker or blackjack, a growing number of online casino players are playing games for free, or at least becoming familiar with them in this way before making their first deposit.
These kinds of tactics are particularly crucial in the current climate, where physical casino operations are being halted and where people globally are increasingly finding themselves with more free time, as their national governments impose lockdown, limit non-essential travel and close workplaces.
So, although stock in many of the leading casino brands has inevitably fallen, there remains opportunity for the industry to show its resilience and ride through the present challenges. By allowing players to play for free online and by providing the right introductory offers, brands can engage with new players while keeping existing customers entertained.