COVID-19 Reshaped the Casino Industry

The bright lights and excitement of the casino floor provide an escape for many. Yet when COVID-19 arrived, the party came to an abrupt stop. As countries worldwide enforced lockdowns, casual gamblers and high rollers alike stayed home, devastating the global casino business and preferring online gaming on platforms like Sisal superlotterie. Two years later, the industry is still reeling even as doors reopen. Here’s an in-depth look at how the pandemic reshaped casinos and gambling across the globe.

Shutting the Doors: The Early Impact on Revenue

The initial lockdowns brought casino revenue to a screeching halt in early 2020, with global gaming revenue falling 49% year-over-year. Commercial casinos in the US saw revenue drop from $43.65 billion in 2019 to just $30.03 billion in 2020. And the pain was felt across venues large and small. For example, MGM Resorts reported a $1.02 billion loss in revenue in Q2 of 2020 compared to 2019.

Lingering Effects: Ongoing Reduced Visitation

While the rollout of vaccines in 2021 brought hope, recovery remains slow. US commercial casino revenue jumped 78% in 2021 but remains below 2019 levels, likely due to reduced hotel occupancy rates and visitation. Hotel occupancy for Las Vegas strip casinos hit a pandemic-era high in November 2021 at 86.6% but still trailed November 2019 levels by 10.4 percentage points. This trend spans globally as Japan saw 9.3 million fewer casino visitors in 2021 versus 2019.

The Growth of iGaming

While land-based casino revenue declined, the pandemic drove massive growth in online gambling. The global online gambling market grew from $58.9 billion in 2019 to $66.7 billion in 2020. And this explosion is likely to continue with some projections showing the global iGaming market growing at a CAGR of 11.94% from 2021-2028. Plus national and state governments are moving to legalize online betting to shore up tax revenues.

Bankruptcies and Buyouts

With small and mid-sized venues struggling as visitation lags, industry consolidation is accelerating. High-profile bankruptcies include the Moulin Rouge Casino in Las Vegas and the popular Circus Circus Reno in Nevada. Analysts predict larger operators like Caesars, MGM Resorts, and Penn National will scoop up distressed assets at bargain prices. Consolidating properties allows major players to cut costs through synergies while controlling larger market share as visitation ramps up.

Staffing Shortages

As demand returns, casinos face a new dilemma – staffing shortages. Employment at US commercial casinos remains more than 10% below pre-pandemic levels. Competition from rising wages in other sectors makes hiring more difficult – a survey found 60% of casino hospitality employees changed industries last year. Properties are now offering incentives like referral bonuses to attract workers in tight labor market conditions.

List of Casino Staffing Incentives:

  • Referral bonuses ($500+)
  • Increased hourly wages
  • Signing bonuses ($250+)
  • Flexible scheduling options
  • Tuition assistance programs

Double Down on Safety: Strict New Protocols

Reopening after months-long closures also required casinos to implement rigorous safety protocols to assuage consumer fears around crowded indoor venues. These include reduced capacity limits, physical distancing measures, enhanced cleaning procedures, employee health screenings, contactless payment options, and upgraded HVAC filtration systems. In 2021, 77% of casino guests said they avoid venues with lax safety policies so properties are investing heavily to regain trust.

The Hand Dealt: Long-Term Impacts

While pandemic impacts caused short-term upheaval, the best slots online casino and gambling landscape is permanently changed. Consumers found new options online, and many may not return to brick-and-mortar venues at pre-2020 levels. At the same time, properties invested in new tech for cashless, contactless experiences that will evolve customer expectations. M&A deals will accelerate to cut costs.

Yet for an industry known to take risks and reinvent itself sparkling anew like a phoenix from ashes, the house odds still favor its survival and success in the post-pandemic era through understanding consumer sentiment and doubling down on service and safety.

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