Online Casinos and Betting Could Go Mainstream Because of COVID-19

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The abrupt suspension of all land-based gambling activity has prompted many companies and lawmakers to seek an alternative, turning to online betting and gaming.

Online Gambling May See a Brighter Future Because of COVID-19 Lockdown

With most lawmakers resisting the shift towards online casinos and mobile sports wagering, 2020 and 2021 may yet see a string of regulatory moves that would enable players to place wagers and access iGaming products remotely, SBC Digital Summit experts said recently.

Presently, online gambling is legal only in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, with some forays made into Michigan, but no official launch date yet, and Colorado rolling out yesterday, Friday, May 1. Among the experts to embrace the shift towards remote gambling was Stacie Stern, head of governmental affairs at FanDuel.

Stern said that there were strong signs for a wilder adoption of mobile and online gambling across the United States. In Southern states, where people tend to oppose online gambling on principle, many have acknowledged that it would be a while before land-based casinos can return back to normal, prompting legislators to seek alternatives.

While Stern doesn’t think all would act, she believes many would at least consider an alternative.

“Maybe they’ll include mobile sports betting in the budget for a couple of states trying to generate revenue and get things done quickly.”

The uncertainty of the situation has prompted legislators to give online casinos a second thought. Even Flutter Entertainment CEO Peter Jackson commented last week that the merger with The Stars Group was to directly respond to sudden market shocks and overcome the uncertainties of times.

Paving the Way for Casinos, Sports and Poker

According to John Pappas, CEO and founder of Corridor Consulting, there have already been strong signs and growing interest in online gambling, and especially poker. A week ago, 888Poker, reported a 60% increase in traffic, and one survey stated that there had been a 200% increase in overall poker traffic in the United States.

Despite the promising outlook, Pappas cautioned that some states may become too trigger-happy and try to apply steep taxes and fees for casinos, sportsbooks and cardrooms before they can launch.

Pennsylvania offered a package worth $10 million to allow companies to operate all three licenses – worth $4 million each if bought separately. Illinois’ fees reached $20 million, which are the highest to date. Pappas said that regulators and legislators must be guided and “educated” about crafting working measures:

“We need to educate them on why having a competitive market with low tax rates and reasonable fees will create more revenue in the long term for the states, instead of trying to get as much as they can out of this industry in a short amount of time and how that is really not the best policy.”

Vixio Regulatory Intelligence reporter Matt Carey agreed with the previous two opinions, arguing that while a massive shift towards online gambling was unthinkable several months prior, it was on the cards as a result of the falling revenue from the land-based sector.

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