The coronavirus crisis has affected businesses in many different sectors and the gambling industry is among them.
One of the world's hotspots for the disease has proven to be the United States, which eventually responded to the pandemic with a nationwide lockdown.
That resulted in casinos being among the businesses forced to close their doors with no information on when they might be able to reopen once more.
Las Vegas turned into a virtual ghost town as a result of the move and the future of its many casinos was cast into doubt as a result.
While Vegas might be getting up and running again as the COVID-19 situation starts to improve in America, it is clear the impact on the gambling industry is going to be long-lasting.
So is online gambling flourishing in the US with the closure of bricks and mortar casinos?
Online gambling rising following coronavirus crisis
Early estimates indicate there has been an increase in online gambling due to coronavirus.
With casinos across America closed for months due to the pandemic, anyone who has wanted to have a game of roulette or blackjack has had little choice but to go online to play.
According to a new researchandmarkets.com study, global online gambling and betting will increase by almost $50 billion over the course of 2020, with this rise partly due to COVID-19.
This would be a revised compounded annual growth rate of close to 10 per cent, says the Online Gambling & Betting – Global Market Trajectory & Analytics report. Online poker is particularly booming at the current time with research predicting an increase of over 11 per cent.
The report noted that "unprecedented events affecting every industry" are happening due to the pandemic, adding: "The poker market will be reset to a new normal which going forwards in a post COVID-19 era will be continuously redefined and redesigned.
"Staying on top of trends and accurate analysis is paramount now more than ever to manage uncertainty, change and continuously adapt to new and evolving market conditions."
Other reports have also come out in the past couple of months showing the impact of COVID-19 and land-based casinos closing on the online gambling sector.
Gambling growth seen in transaction processing volume increase
More recent research shows the rise in online gambling at this time. According to Spanish payment services and fraud management aggregator Easy Payment Gateway, the industry is partly responsible for a recent rise in transaction processing volume.
The company says it has seen a 10 per cent rise in transaction processing volume in recent weeks with online casinos cited as among the businesses that have contributed to this.
"In this extraordinary situation you have to look for solutions that bring in business and help to promote growth, always considering the varying characteristics of each sector," said Manuel Prieto, chief executive officer of Easy Payment Gateway, in a press release from the firm.
Expect many new online casino sites to launch and legislation worldwide to encourage people gambling online. In the US, for example, the current gambling laws continued to be loosened.
Pivoting online is likely to be a popular move for existing gambling companies as well, while it is expected that the level of competition within the sector will expand quickly.
UK and Australia join US in recording rise in online gambling
The trend for increasing online gambling is not just seen in America, with a similar picture able to be seen in both the United Kingdom and Australia, two countries where betting is very popular.
Analytics firm SEMrush has published research in Australia showing a tripling in internet searches for 'online pokies' – the country's term for slot machines – despite strict laws regarding online casinos in the country.
Data released by economic analysts AlphaBeta and credit bureau Illion in another study found online gambling activity is up by more than 100 per cent in Australia due to COVID-19.
Meanwhile, in the UK, the Gambling Commission recently stated that there has been a continued shift to online betting among consumers during the coronavirus crisis.
Its data showed a 53 per cent rise in poker play between March and April 2020, while there was a five per cent rise for online casinos over the same period.
"During April 2019, 26 per cent of consumers appeared to engage in more than one online activity, a figure which rose to 42 per cent during April 2020," said the study.
It is certain online gambling will continue to be popular. With land-based casinos seeing a bleak future because of the pandemic's impact, businesses in the US and around the world are likely to increasingly focus their efforts on persuading customers to bet online instead.