Very few industries are unaffected by the COVID19 crisis and the gambling niche is definitely not one of them. Online casinos and poker rooms have thrived during the crisis, but bookmakers were heavily hit by it and they fear that the worst is yet to come. Both land-based and online bookmakers struggled over the last couple of months, as virtually all sports were brought to a screeching halt. Even though many of the championships have resumed, matches are played with no fans, which greatly diminishes their appeal.
Traditional betting shops are hit the hardest
Bookmakers from all over the world fear job losses and closures in 2020 or at least face significant losses that will make it difficult for them to recover. Traditional betting shops are in danger of closing down by the end of the year, as they can only rely on a fraction of their regular audience. In the UK, local bookies have opened their doors, but the number of people visiting them is quite low. The high operational costs and intense competition has crushed their profit margin and brought them on the brink of bankruptcy.
Paddy Power, Boylesports and Ladbrokes are some of the biggest names in sports betting and they run profitable online gambling businesses. However, their land-based bookmakers are facing the same problems as smaller sportsbooks and are suffering significant losses. They have the advantage of a diversified portfolio, since the groups owning them provide other types of gambling to a diverse audience. They also have access to significant resources and money that is unavailable to small bookies.
Punters are reluctant to bet in local shops
Land-based bookmakers were already fighting a losing battle with their online counterparts, as most punters have migrated to online gambling. The obstacles erected by the Covid-19 crisis has only made matters worse and drove more people to Internet gaming hubs. People are reluctant to visit the local betting shop and fear the risk of infection, so they prefer to open an online account. For local bookies who don’t have an Internet presence, this means that a significant source of revenue is lost forever.
The entire gambling industry is preparing for a significant drop in turnover for the foreseeable future. The numbers vary greatly, but many expect the revenue to shrink by more than 50% in 2020 and potentially beyond. If this happens, there will be plenty of closures and a lot of jobs will be lost, potentially forever. Ever since the betting tax was doubled in the UK, many bookmakers were put on the brink and now bankruptcy looks almost inevitable.
Customer confidence is also plummeting and elderly people are frightened by the prospect of catching the disease at a local bookmaker. They represent a significant percentage of the customers of these outlets, so their absence will be direly missed. Bookmakers have no choice but to adhere to all the safety guidelines and protocols, yet this might not be enough to restore the players’ confidence.