Digital drives gambling’s COVID recovery

Digital sales channels have helped global gambling to be resilient to, and recover from, the COVID-19 pandemic, when venues such as casinos and betting shops were closed for long periods in many jurisdictions.

Prior to the pandemic, e-gaming accounted for 12%-13% of global gambling revenues. E-gaming’s market share leapt to 19% in 2020 and provisional figures compiled by Global Betting and Gaming Consultants suggest it surpassed 21% in 2021.

There are several factors behind the increased share. Online poker was certainly helped by the lockdowns in 2020. The poker boost was temporary in many markets, with revenues falling back again when lockdowns ended in Q3 2020.

In the US, the on-going process of sports betting regulation since 2018 was well-timed to help some states have internet betting available.

Across betting markets, there was some measure of pent-up demand when sports resumed in Q3 2020 and postponed tournaments were held in 2021.

In many cases, national and state lotteries were able to continue holding draws, even though retail outlets were closed, which gave a boost to lotteries’ digital sales.

The growth in e-gaming continued into 2021, when many countries had further lockdowns and restrictions on retail activities. Some regulators did seek to curb demand for e-gaming by imposing deposit limits and advertising restrictions.

A bar graph showing the increase in global internet gambling revenues by sector between 2020 and 2021.

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