As lockdown continues in many areas around the world, including South Africa, an interesting trend has been observed. According to data collected from internet search engines, the interest in online casinos has hit a record high. Google Trends data reports that more people than ever before typed in the words ‘casinos online’ when doing an online search.
The reason for this trend is clear. Governments from around the world are doing everything in their power to stop the spread of COVID-19. One of the first things they did was close all physical gambling venues and cancel all sports events.
Players that were used to betting on their favourite sports or spinning the slots at their favourite South African brick-and-mortar casino are now suddenly left with no place to physically go to. Cue: Online casinos.
Online gambling sites give players a secure and lockdown-safe solution to play casino games from the comfort of their own homes. It’s no wonder then, that more players than ever are seeking out online casinos.
Data coming out of the United Kingdom shows that across the industry, there has been a significant increase in the number of customers playing online slots, poker, casino gaming and virtual sports. Players are now able to spend more time playing online as they remain home from work.
Responsible gambling groups are keeping a close eye on the situation, warning that financial distress, isolation and boredom could lead to an increase in gambling problems if players had such tendencies.
The chief executive of the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, Neil McArthur, said: “We are monitoring online operators closely and if we see irresponsible behaviour we will step in immediately, suspending licences if we need to.”
Last month, the UK banned the use of credit cards and e-wallets such as Skrill, PayPal and Neteller for online gambling purposes. The government felt that using these banking methods exacerbated some people’s issues.
In a recent market report on the state South African gambling industry in 2020, it was shown that online gambling has been increasingly taking its share from the brick-and-mortar casinos and other betting outlets.
Since the national lockdown came into effect on March 27th, 2020, the traditional gambling industry is facing unparalleled losses. At the same time, there has been a surge in activity at online gambling sites. Horse racing and sports events have been cancelled or postponed indefinitely since the novel coronavirus broke in South Africa. Bingo halls, totalisators, casinos and others have been forced to close down.
It’s interesting to see that as lockdown time extends, players are spending less on average at their favourite online casinos. This could be due to financial uncertainty.