Online Casinos Gain Market Share as Land-based Casinos Suffer from Lockdowns
Online casinos were gaining popularity even before COVID-19 pandemic but lockdowns in various parts of the world have led to strong growth for online casinos and sports betting apps. The downloads for apps have been rising for the last five months as majority of countries in Asia, Europe and the Americas announced strict lockdowns.
The gaming hub of Macau has faced major decline in land-based casino revenues. While Macau and other land-based casinos are facing troubles due to COVID-19 restrictions, online casino platforms and online sports betting apps have registered strong growth.
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Casino operators in Macau are expecting to see higher revenue in upcoming weeks as IVS has been allowed by many Chinese cities. Around a couple of weeks back, the city of Zhuhai in Guangdong province of China eased Covid-19 restrictions and resumed the popular Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) to help Macau’s ailing gaming industry, but the world’s leading gaming hub is still waiting IVS benefit to materialize.
As the corona virus pandemic-hit gaming industry of Macau is still waiting for positive impact of the resumption of IVS, some analysts have warned that it could take longer than previously estimated time for the gaming hub to recover. Industry analysts are also forecasting August as another gloomy month in terms of casinos’ gross gaming revenue (GGR).
Pointing out that there is no impact resumption of IVS program on Macau gaming industry yet, a team of Bernstein analysts predicted a decline of 94 per cent in GGR this month, which would add to gloom for the ailing industry that has suffered several month in a row with declines of more than 90 per cent. The analysts also noted that the IVS visa applications are taking time to get processed.
Forecasting a gloomy August for Macau gaming industry, Bernstein analysts said, “While Zhuhai has started visa issuances, there is no impact on Macau gaming yet, and, as a result, the wait goes on. The wait on IVS visa applications is approximately seven to 10 days, as automated visa issuance system is not yet active, and applicants have to go through the application process in person (for now).”
The predicted decline of 94 per cent in GGR in the current month would follow a decline of 94.5 per cent in July GGR in the special administrative region (SAR), which is the only region under China’s jurisdiction where gambling enjoys a legal status.
The SAR averaged nearly 5,600 daily visitors from 1st of August through 12th of August. However, that figure increased to 7,700 recently. In the month to 23rd of August, Macau’s gaming turnover tally was pegged at nearly $119, representing a decline of around 95 per cent from the corresponding period of last year.
While the Zhuhai city in Guangdong province resumed issuing IVS visas on 12th of August, residents of the rest of mainland China will have to wait for the popular visa scheme till 23rd of September. The resumption of IVS scheme by the Zhuhai city was being considered crucial for the Macau’s ailing gaming industry as it is the only mainland China city that is connected to the SAR by land.