General

The Impact of Covid-19 on Online Gambling

The Covid-19 pandemic which started in 2020, has affected the lives of people in almost every country worldwide. To prevent the spread of the virus, almost every country imposed a lock-down, and citizens were largely confined to their homes, often for several months. Most people are not used to being confined to their homes since they usually spend most of their time outdoors during the day. While internet service providers noticed that there was a significant increase in internet usage, since people shifted to shopping and working online, the covid-19 lockdown also affected online gambling at online casinos like MerkurXtip in different ways which are discussed below.

Sports betting

Since offline casinos and sports stadiums were responsible for spreading the covid-19 virus, in most countries, all sports activities and offline casinos were closed. Sports betting on football, cricket, and other games, forms a significant portion of online gambling, and this was adversely affected by the covid-19 pandemic. Since most sporting events like the Olympics were either postponed or canceled, those who enjoy sports betting could not place their bets. Additionally, it was observed even if smaller events like school or college sports matches were held, huge bets were placed on these sports, in the absence of major sporting events.

Offline casinos

Additionally, the gamblers also shifted to virtual sports where they would make up their own teams, bet on players. The offline casinos with their slot, poker, blackjack, and other games were also closed. So it was noticed that the gamblers at the offline casinos, shifted to online casinos. One of the main disadvantages of online gambling was that it is often difficult for the gambler to keep track of the time which is being spent gambling at home, compared to a casino, where the staff is monitoring the gamblers and there are gamblers present.

Free time

A large number of people working in certain industry sectors especially hospitality, tourism, and entertainment, lost their jobs or were told to remain at home for the lockdown period. These individuals had plenty of free time, felt bored, and often did not know how to utilize their free time. Taking advantage of the lockdown, a large number of gambling websites started aggressively marketing their websites, promises huge profits. The online casinos and virtual sports websites were advertising extensively on smartphones since most people were accessing the internet using smartphones.

Increased online gambling

It is observed that individuals who were already gambling online, increased the time which they were spending gambling online significantly. Additionally, a large number of individuals who did not gamble online earlier also opened their accounts at the online casinos and started gambling. Online poker was one of the most popular casino games with a massive increase in gamblers in some countries. In absence of sporting events, the gamblers also shifted to betting on other events. In Russia, it was reported that online gamblers were betting on covid-19 related events.

Gambling addiction

One of the major online gambling problems noticed in many countries where online gambling is popular is gambling addiction. Since the gamblers were at home, often alone in some cases, they often lost track of the time they were spending gambling. They became addicted to spending their time daily gambling at the casino. In many cases, due to job loss or reduced income, the gamblers would try to compensate for the income loss by gambling at the online casinos, hoping to make huge profits. However, in many cases, the gamblers would make more losses, worsening their financial problems further, leading to depression and increased stress. It is observed that at least 1% of online gamblers become addicted or have similar problems.

Restrictions

Realizing that online gambling and gambling addiction increased during the covid-19 lockdowns, governments in different countries in Europe and elsewhere implemented measures to reduce online gambling. In the United Kingdom, during the lockdown, the Betting and Gaming council announced that they would stop all the gambling-related advertising on television and radio so that people would not be tempted to gamble online. In Spain, the gambling advertising was restricted to 1 am – 5 am daily, while Latvia banned online gambling. Belgium restricted the amount which the gamblers could gamble weekly at the casinos to 500 Euro.