Covid-19 is a global tragedy that has affected almost all countries in the world. This situation has drastically changed the world we live in. The pandemic situation has swept the world, destroying businesses and human lives. The only efficient way to cope with this “perfect storm” was and still is social distancing.
In an attempt to limit the social interactions between people, the governments of many countries decided to close all social venues, including land-based casinos. This left thousands of people stranded at home who were looking for ways to kill some time and escape from reality at least for some time. With the introduced preventive measures, avid casino enthusiasts started to eye the opportunity to place online bets.
Gambling in Wales
Wales is part of the United Kingdom and as such, its gambling industry is under the jurisdiction of the UK Gambling Commission. Based on the casino gross gambling revenue in Wales, we can conclude that gambling is a popular pastime among Welsh people. It is interesting to mention that the UK’s first gambling regulations came into effect as far back as the 1960s and these were quite restrictive. The situation drastically changed with the introduction of the Gambling Act of 2005 that regulated most forms of gambling.
According to statistics published by the UK Gambling Commission, the total gross gambling yield in Great Britain (the figures include also Wales) for the period between October 2018 – September 2019 amounts to £14.3 billion. Judging from the figures, we can say that Great Britain is enjoying a healthy and blossoming gambling industry. What is more, the regulation process and obtaining a license in Wales is a straightforward process, making the country’s gambling market among the most attractive ones.
Although we could not find separate figures regarding the Welsh gambling industry, it is safe to say that Welsh residents account for a fair share of the total gross gambling revenue announced by the UK Gambling Commission. Hence, we can conclude that the impact of the gambling industry on the Welsh economy is of vital importance for the county’s prosperity.
Online Gambling on the Rise Amid Covid-19
Following the Covid-19 pandemic, the online gambling industry experienced an unprecedented surge in Wales. On 20th March 2020, all brick-and-mortar gambling establishments in Wales were closed, leaving the casino and the sports betting sector struggling to survive. That made a lot of avid casino enthusiasts look for other ways to enjoy their favorite pastime.
It is not a secret that Welsh people are fond of gambling and closing the land-based gambling venues would not prevent them from indulging themselves in their hobby. Being constrained at home, many people recognized the great opportunity to place bets at web-based casinos. According to industry insiders, the global online gambling market is projected to grow from $58.9 billion in 2019 to $66.7 billion in 2020. A simple calculation shows that this represents a growth rate of 13.2% due to Covid-19.
Lockdown Fuels Gambling Addictions
The dramatic rise in online gambling during Covid-19 put in danger a huge number of vulnerable players. In an attempt to prevent the worsening of problematic gambling amid the lockdown, the UK Gambling Commission decided to ban commercials of gaming products. In addition to that, the regulator announced that online credit card bets will be banned since 14th April 2020 as research showed that 22% of players who are placing online bets are considered to be problem gamblers.
Gambling Industry’s Future in Wales Post Covid-19
A “perfect storm” certainly hit the land-based gambling sector in Wales. Brick-and-mortar casinos in Wales are still closed – although Mark Drakeford has announced they will be able to re-open from 29 August after months of closure. Given the length of closure, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) have appealed to the Welsh government to protect jobs in the gambling sector by extending the Business rates Retail Discount to include bingo halls, betting shops, and casinos.
There are over 300 betting shops and four casinos across Wales. It was announced that these venues are in danger of permanent closure, which means that 2,000 people might lose their jobs.
On the other hand, the online gambling market experienced exponential growth due to the lockdown. According to some specialists, even after the opening of the land-based gambling establishments, a good-enough number of people will continue placing bets at online casinos.