With the outbreak of the coronavirus, the sports betting industry has been hit hard with virtually no sport taking place around the world.
But how will the coronavirus impact the betting industry once it’s been and gone?
Let’s find out.
Sports betting in the UK
Football and horse racing make up 75% of the sports betting market in the UK. With all sports postponed indefinitely, betting numbers have plummeted.
However, bookmakers have continued to create new and exciting markets for punters to bet on during the outbreak.
From betting on the coronavirus outbreak to chess matches and virtual sports, punters have still been able to place their bets.
Virtual sports betting
The virtual sports betting market has risen in popularity over the last few years. However, the coronavirus outbreak has taken this category even further.
Despite the lack of real-life sport taking place, virtual sports has been completely unaffected by the coronavirus.
5 million people tuned in to ITV to watch the virtual Grand National in early April this year.
Whilst the idea of virtual sports is novel for a lot of people, many gamblers would have placed bets on this event and others like it.
In 2019, virtual sports made up 13% of bookmaker’s profits. I imagine the figure this year will be considerably higher.
One of the major takeaways from the coronavirus will be that more and more punters are happy to place their bets on various markets including the likes of virtual sports.
Migration to other gambling products
According to surveys conducted by Survation during the coronavirus outbreak, regular gamblers said they were betting more during the lockdown. 28% increased their activity due to boredom and isolation whereas 11% said they were gambling a lot more.
With fewer punters placing bets on sports markets, this shows migration to other gambling products such as casino and bingo platforms.
This is also shown in bookmaker’s financial results. Despite the overall reduction in betting, results show that gamblers have shifted their attention to casino and bingo.
During the pandemic, 41% of gamblers had opened new accounts with online gambling firms.
Once the lockdown has been eased and sporting events resume, more gamblers will have access to betting accounts. Whether gamblers will continue with casino platforms or revert to traditional sports betting, we wait to find out.
According to James Grimes, a recovering gambling addict, the coronavirus and the effects of the overall lockdown are making things worse for problem gamblers.
He said: “I think it’s the perfect storm. Some of my worst gambling was when football was off during the summer and I was replacing it with all sorts: online casinos, slots, virtual sports.”
With online casinos and virtual markets more addictive than traditional sports betting, more problem gamblers are at risk.
Isolation, boredom and stress are all added results of the lockdown which may result in more gamblers putting themselves in danger.
Gambling after the coronavirus
So what will the gambling industry look like after the coronavirus?
Various industry leaders believe that the coronavirus outbreak will increase the appetite for sports betting, especially in up and coming markets like the US.
Casey Clark from the American Gaming Association said:
“Given the budget shortfalls we’re going to see from the existing gaming industry essentially shutting down here in the United States, I think that there might be even more appetite to look for opportunities to bring sports betting to Americans.”
“There is a revenue loss that states are going to have to try to balance when we get past this.”
Here in the UK, experts have similar opinions. There’s a huge amount of pent up demand for sports markets like football and horse racing.
More high-street betting stores to close?
On the other hand, more high-street betting stores are likely to close putting thousands of jobs at risk. The vast majority of people won’t want to visit local high-street stores when there’s an easier option on their mobile device.
More punters will choose online gambling over traditional betting stores.
Online betting after the coronavirus
Online betting is the clear winner from the coronavirus pandemic. More punters will be placing bets on their mobile devices than ever before when the lockdown is lifted.
With new punters opening accounts during the pandemic, bookmakers will have more online customers that are open to various betting formats and markets.
Overall state of play
Overall, despite the lack of sports available to bet on, bookmakers and punters have looked at new ways to continue during the outbreak.
Once the pandemic is over, online betting is certainly going to increase with more and more betting stores shutting up shop due to less demand.
What are your thoughts? Let me know by leaving a comment below right now.