Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, almost all industries in the world are experiencing a significant shift. Similarly, the Canadian casino industry finds itself going through a substantial change. However, it is all not all doom and gloom.
Physical gambling establishments are hit hard
The pandemic is taking a toll on land-based casinos, with physical gambling sites being closed down across the entire country. British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) has effectively closed all their gambling facilities, including casinos, until further notice since March 16. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has also called for all casinos within the province to shut down. Casinos in Manitoba, like Club Regent, has also closed down since mid-March. Similarly, other gambling facilities have also been stopped. Lotto Quebec has shut down all their terminals but does allow the online purchase of lotto tickets. BCLC has also closed their bingo halls and community gaming centres.
Without the usual revenue from patrons, brick-and-mortar gambling establishments are certainly suffering huge financial losses from the COVID-19 pandemic. With no way of telling when they can re-open for business, the future looks very grim indeed for the physical gambling industry, with lay-offs in the horizon.
Online gambling establishments see an unprecedented hike
Online casinos and gambling websites in Canada, on the contrary, are experiencing a boom with demand being higher than ever. Digital casinos are still operating in their full capacity and can be wholly managed even with social distancing measures in place. Patrons who would regularly visit their favourite land-based establishments find themselves going online to fulfil their gaming needs. This is a very big part of the gambling market in Canada and it has shifted to gambling online within a very short amount of time.
With no gatherings to attend, movie theatres to go to, sports events and concerts cancelled, people find themselves being home a lot and for a very long period of time. Many of them are looking for ways to process their boredom, exhaustion from in the same space for so long, and lack of physical social contact. Naturally, a big part of the Canadian population, even those who don’t usually gamble, are going online to look for entertainment, including signing up at online casinos.
What does the future hold for Canada’s gambling industry?
Will the COVID pandemic have any long-term impact on the gambling industry in Canada? According to experts and officials, the worst is yet to come and social distancing measures must still take place for at least a while more. Brick-and-mortar gambling sites can expect no financial income for quite some time more but will still have to continue paying their employees. This is, however, impossible to sustain for a long period of time. Therefore, a prolonged COVID-19 pandemic could result in gambling sites going out of business and shutting down permanently.
What will happen, then, when the pandemic is over? Will we be going back to life as we know it? Probably not. Patrons of land-based gambling sites would have tasted what’s it like to play online, within the comfort of their own home and benefiting from the many bonuses they can take advantage of at online casinos. Many of them might not take the trouble to travel to the brick-and-mortar establishments they used to frequent anymore even if those establishments are still operating then, or they might still do, but less frequently.
Yet, this doesn’t have to spell the end of the physical gambling industry in Canada. Instead, land-based sites will have to step up their game and offer a whole different experience to attract customers, especially something unique that online casinos can’t offer. Therefore, while the pandemic is taking a huge toll on physical gambling sites, the ones who survive it could come out even stronger, raising the bar of the industry post-COVID.