Shutdown of Land-Based Casinos Sparks Rise in Online Search

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US ‘Online Casino’ Searches Soar Due to Land-Based Casino Shutdown as players look for sports alternatives.

The Coronavirus pandemic has led to people being in lockdown across the globe. There are no mass gatherings allowed, which ultimately means no major sports are currently taking place. Of course, this means those who like to bet on sports currently do not have that option. The closure of major US land-based gaming venues and cancellation of live sport has sparked a 100% rise in internet searches for ‘online casino’ across North America.

This may not come as a major surprise. Casino operators are currently strongly pushing their online offerings to customers. Due to modern technology, gamers can enjoy live dealer games and slot machines from the comforts of their own home.

The research was carried out using Google Trends from February to the end of March this year. It was discovered that there was a sharp rise in players searching for ‘online casino’ following land-based venues switching off slot machines and sports events being rescheduled.

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Casino Search Overtakes Sports

The research found that on March 12th, more US players searched for ‘online casino’ than ‘sports betting’ with numbers doubling in the following two weeks. That was a massive turning point as sports betting has been gaining popularity across the US before the Coronavirus canceled all sporting events.

Since the repeal of PASPA in August 2018, 17 US states have regulated sports betting with only five, including Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania opening up iGaming. States such as New Jersey have seen a major jump in revenues as residents enjoy mobile gaming. It was anticipated that this year more states would soften their approach to sports betting, and legislation would be brought forward.

Furthermore, there is pressure on those states who do not currently offer online betting to do so as they continue to lose revenue. Combined sports betting and online casino ‘handle’ across those US States was more than $1.7 billion in February 2020. Of course, this is expected to be dramatically reduced for March as the lockdown was enforced. Operators are currently scrambling around trying to mitigate losses and make up shortfalls. As a result of the surge in online casino interest, lawmakers in states that have already regulated betting could consider fast-tracking iGaming.

States Urged to Allow Online Casino Games

Industry trade group, iDevelopment & Economic Association, are urging states to allow online casino games to replace disappearing revenue, including exploring how governors can use emergency powers to quickly enable online casinos to operate.

Fintan Costello, Managing Director of Bonusfinder.com, said: “The five states that have opened iGaming are seeing month-on-month revenue rises with New Jersey leading the way. It has a robust and responsible framework in place to protect players and has shown that online and offline casinos can operate together within the same territory and consistently generate very healthy returns.”

Costello continued, “This is a wake-up call for the 12 states that have already established an online sports betting regime. They should take note of the enormous interest in online casinos from players and use this momentum to legislate iGaming before we start seeing players turning to unlicensed, offshore sites and the black market”.

The danger of players turning to the black market is very real. Research carried out by BonusFinder.com looking at the Swedish market found a spike in Swedish players searching for a basket of black-market keywords. Almost a third of Swedish online casino players are searching online for ‘unlicensed casinos’.

Follow us on Twitter @Gamble_usa for more legal sports betting news across the US.

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