In the wake of social distancing and preventive measures to curb the Coronavirus, most businesses have been forced to close their physical locations. As a result, Canadian consumers choose to do their shopping online. Shopping behavior was not the only change in consumer behaviour during the lockdown. Online entertainment services peaked significantly during the lockdown. We at Supremacy-Casinos have been tracking consumer behavior in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic in hope to get a grasp on what the future will hold for the online gambling industry in Canada and worldwide. We have witnessed a greater shift towards online gambling and this is only natural – as all physical casinos closed down during the lockdown, gamblers sought out entertainment online instead. Our traffic to the website has increased, as search interest for online casino related terms has reached an all-time high in Canada.
Increased Online Consumption Challenges the Status Quo of Traditional Retailers
Outside of the casino space, small retail businesses have been forced to innovate in order to survive. Platforms like Shopify have helped traditional retailers pivot towards e-commerce fast and easy. Consumers were forced to do their shopping online, and as a result, the pandemic instilled a greater sense of trust in e-commerce. A large percentage of these new online consumers will continue purchasing goods and services online post-COVID-19. In a sense, the retail landscape in Canada has evolved and the change is likely permanent.
Shift Towards Online Gambling
Much like the retail industry, the gambling industry has both traditional brick-and-mortar casinos and digital online casinos. Up until now, the two types of gambling establishments have managed to co-exist and complement each other. A lot of people prefer to go play at a casino in person and there’s a lot of people that prefer the convenience of playing on a mobile device in their home. To capitalize on this, some traditional retailers have pivoted towards also offering online gambling to reach both market groups. Many casinos did not adapt yet, and the pandemic has made it painstakingly obvious that the physical business needs to be complemented by an online casino. The same idea, however, is not entirely true in reverse. For those companies who only offer the online product, expanding into the land-based casino industry holds a much greater risk, both financially and strategically, whilst for land-based operators, an expansion online should be a no-brainer and a safe financial move with guaranteed profits. This pandemic has proved that the online business definitely has the upper hand and we can take N1 Casino as an example of a young, yet solid and successful brand, securing stable profits and constant growth, showing the pros of operating solely on the online side of the gambling industry.
Online Casinos Dominating in the Wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic
In July, as Canada eased the lockdown restrictions, casinos across the country opened their doors again. But many regular casino goers still remained at home. As a whole, reports by statistics Canada has shown a GDP value increase of 0.5% YoY (Year-on-Year) for the month of July, for the gambling industry. Reports from last year suggested that the GDP value of the gambling industry for the months between May to September was CAD 502,000,000. The numbers mean that the increase for 2020 was only CAD 2,510,000. What’s surprising is that the portion of revenues from casino operators who offer both land-based services and online casino services, reported that online gaming revenue made up most of the total gaming revenue. Traditionally, for these operators, land-based gaming revenue makes up a large majority of their total revenue. This correlates with our own observations of the soaring search interest in online casinos, as many gamblers prefer to stay at home and play casino games online. The reason behind the reluctance of going to the casino is likely multifold, where two factors are major contributors; fear of contracting the virus while visiting public spaces and the convenience of playing at home.
It Remains to be Seen if Online Gaming Revenue Persists on a Year-on-Year Basis in 2021 and Beyond
People tend to forget, and the fear of the coronavirus too shall pass. If this happens, we can expect that the portion of consumers who currently prefer online casinos out of fear or respect for the virus, will return to the land-based casinos to seek out entertainment. However, as we pointed out, the shift in consumer behavior is multifold, and many gamblers who had previously never experienced online casinos were now forced to try. Many of these consumers will prefer the convenience of staying at home. As with retail, the pandemic instilled a greater sense of trust in online casinos and using digital payments.