COVID-19 has had a huge impact on daily life in the United Kingdom. For the majority of people, it is something they have never seen before and are unlikely to see again in their lifetime. The coronavirus outbreak has had a major effect on the industry in the UK and will continue to do so for some time. Looking at the online gambling sector and specifically online casinos, did COVID-19 affect the best UK online casino sites?
While brick and mortar casinos were unable to offer their services, the best online casino sites in the UK as found at www.bestbettingsites.uk continued to operate normally. There may have been a slight drop off in the number of live casino games available. Some of them used land-based casinos to operate these games but, generally, every game that was available before COVID-19 remained.
While many business sectors in the United Kingdom have been suffering due to COVID-19, the same cannot be said for the best UK online casino sites. A simple way to see how COVID-19 has affected the best UK online casino sites is to look at the Google search trends for the period in question. Taking a specific search term as an example, and prior to March 2020, the results for the search terms “online poker” are consistent. There is no significant rise or fall in the data between December 2019 and the end of February 2020.
However, when looking at the figures from the 13th of March, 2020, there is a steep rise in the number of people using the search term “online poker”. This was when we saw the first signs of coronavirus becoming a serious problem in the UK, and the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, introduced 20 days later lockdown measures.
Another search term, which saw a huge increase in volume in the United Kingdom due to the outbreak of COVID-19 is “online casino”. There was a sharp increase in the number of people using the search term “online casino” from March 2020 onwards, and in March, April, and May it reached the highest level it had been for over 16 years.
A look at some of the figures published by the Gambling Commission shows a 16% increase in the year on year statistics for the number of bets placed on online slots games in March 2019 and March 2020. This figure continued to increase in both April and May. The number of bets placed on poker also increased by 38% between March 2019 and March 2020, with a massive 70% change between March 2020 and April 2020.
The average spend per active player also increased between April and May 2020, especially in terms of slots and virtual betting. However, a YouGov survey asked past-four-week gamblers (between the end of May and June) whether they had increased the time or money they had spent on individual gambling activities. 73% indicated that they had not increased the time or money they had spent on any gambling activities. However, 17% said that they had increased the amount of time or money spent on gambling activities. More specifically, 9% said that they had increased the money spent on gambling, and 3% said that they had increased the amount of time they spent gambling.
Considering all land-based casinos in the UK have been closed during this period, it means that the increases have come in the online casino market.
The same cannot be said for online sports betting. The majority of professional sports not only in the UK but around the world were postponed. Therefore, all of the betting markets surrounding these sports became unavailable immediately. Some people would have stopped gambling altogether, and some may have turned to virtual sports betting.
However, some people, even if it were a small number, would have turned to online casinos as a replacement to sports betting. While it is impossible to replace betting on a football match or horse race, there are ways to enjoy sports-related gambling at online casinos in the United Kingdom. Themed slots games are a good example, and you will find plenty of football and horseracing based slots available online.
Until we are fully out of the woods in terms of COVID-19, we will not know the full effect it had on the best UK online casino sites. Judging by the figures above, it appears as though, in the worst-case scenario, they haven’t suffered in the same way other industries have within the country. In fact, it may turn out that the best UK online casino sites have seen an upturn in business due to COVID-19.