It’s hard to find any positive economic news emanating from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
The record surge of new coronavirus cases in Arizona, California, Florida, Texas and dozens of other states has put a damper on any forward momentum coming out of business reopenings. Indeed, there is talk that the harder hit jurisdictions may have to go back into shutdown mode, at least for the time being. Even if most marketplaces remain open, it’s obvious at this point that they will have to operate under numerous COVID-mandated restrictions for the remainder of this year and likely well into the next, which will have a chilling effect on earnings as well as a negative impact on the labor market.
Dip down to the micro-level, and the medium-term economic outlook is neither hearty nor hale for the land-based gaming industry. Sure, casinos have reopened, but facilities are operating under strict attendance restrictions and social distancing protocols, and are only generating a fraction of the business and revenues they were the months prior to COVID. And these shortfalls are having a ripple effect on gaming as a whole—in its second-quarter slot survey, Eilers & Krejcik Gaming reported a 60-70 percent year-over-year decline in slot sales, which is taking a dramatic toll on the manufacturing community.
Despite this doom and gloom, there are certain aspects of the gaming realm which have survived and even thrived during coronavirus, none more so than online/mobile wagering. Need proof? Here are some nuggets:
- According to PlayNJ, New Jersey online casino games have grown monthly revenue from $50.2 million in February to $81.4 million in June, a 62 percent increase. Over the same time period, online poker has jumped from $1.8 million to $3.5 million. Pennsylvania also reported record online sports and casino betting revenues since the advent of COVID-mandated land-based casino closings.
- SciPlay, the digital arm of Scientific Games, reported $166 million in revenue during the second quarter of this year, an increase of 40 percent over the previous quarter and a new company record. The company also had a 47 percent increase in mobile revenue and an 86 percent uptick in net income.
With results like these in a market like this, isn’t it time for the U.S. gaming community to more fully embrace the seemingly unlimited potential of online wagering?