As Casinos Prepare to Reopen, iGaming May Become the New Normal

With the online gaming market in the U.S. posting record-high numbers and a convergence between land-based and online gaming technology, casinos may need to rely on iGaming more in future to weather big disruptions.

Regulated US Markets Sees Strong iGaming Uptake in April

The last few months have completely reshaped the casino landscape in the United States, offering opportunities for iGaming to shine, and it has. Results in all three regulated markets notched up a significant year-over-year increase.

Delaware posted a total bet amount of $28.5 million in April, up 138.5%. New Jersey reported that revenue hit $80 million or 118.6% increase year-over-year.

As to Pennsylvania, the Keystone State proved the most prolific when it comes to yearly results, with online gaming handle pushing past the $1 billion mark and neatly arriving at $1.4 billion in April. All three states showed significant strength and resilience with land-based operations suspended.

Account registrations also jumped in Delaware, with 1,400 new users registering in April alone. The question remains if this fad would grow into a trend. According to experts in Macau, this is now possible, as tax take fell by 38% in the city.

Even though the land-based sector is under siege, young gamers still seem eager to get back to the casino floor, with some 69% of young gamblers showing confidence they will be playing when the land-based casino restarts.

Converging the Online and Land-Based Segment

Pedro Cortés, a Macau-based lawyer, spoke to GGRAsia, arguing that should Macau have been allowed to offer online gaming products by now, the COVID-19 impact on the region’s gross gaming revenue (GGR) would have been much lower.

Cortés further explained that if in the past there was a significant difference in the technology used for the land-based market and online, those technological differences have been equated.

Many of the leading iGaming companies today are also providers of land-based solutions, to name IGT and Scientific Games, Playtech, and others. Cortés noted that online gaming could introduce entirely new gaming paradigms.

He spoke of how social casinos could award social points to use on visits and trips to Macau and spend on items outside the online world and the casino. Speaking to the media outlet, he didn’t hide his enthusiasm about the future:

“There’s a huge amount of possibilities out there and in the case of Macau, it seems that some of these issues should be considered or we may lose the epithet of gambling capital of the world and in a few years the casinos that we have will be museums instead of gaming and entertainment destinations.”

Moddy’s Opinion of the Future of iGaming

Meanwhile, Moody’s Investors Service Inc confirmed Cortés’ excitement and noted that land-based companies may further seek to strengthen their presence and diversify risk by forging new alliances with online casinos and iGaming operators.

However, this would also face its own kind of trouble, and not least the resistance of some markets to online gambling. Even though sports betting is legal in nearly 20 states in the United States, iGaming is only allowed in three states.

Channeling the Power of Social Gambling

Another high-profile industry insider, Shaun McCamley, also commented on possible future solutions. If the government is opposed to gambling per se, casino brands have the option of introducing social casinos and completely upend their revenue model.

There is no need to offer a traditional gambling product, McCamley argued, noting that the model players expected was “consideration, chance and some sort of prize,” something in which skill-based games have been somewhat good already.

Of course, a realistic assessment of the online gaming segment will be needed. While nobody knows the exact potential value of iGaming in the United States, it’s estimated to be worth billions. Meanwhile, The Stars Group, which recently finalized a merger with Flutter Entertainment, posted record-breaking revenue, up to US$735 million for the three months to 31 March 2020.  

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