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Online casino traffic surges during COVID-19 pandemic

26 March 2020

Some online casinos are upgrading their promotions to catch attention of players.

Some online casinos are upgrading their promotions to catch attention of players. (photo by Wikimedia Commons)

We are in unprecedented times with COVID-19, as 100% of the commercial casinos in the U.S. are now closed, according to the American Gaming Association, with many others all over the world doing the same. Sports leagues across the U.S. have also shut down for the time being with no set date of return and the Olympics were postponed, which means options for sports bettors and daily fantasy sports players are severely limited.

However, there is an alternative for those gamblers.

Online casinos are attracting bettors looking for a way to continue their gambling habits.
As a result of casinos closing, traffic at WSOP.com poker rooms in the states it is offered (Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware) has been “at an all-time high,” according to Seth Palansky, Vice President of Corporate Communications Caesars Interactive Entertainment.

“The real story for us at the moment is the robust demand online,” Palansky told Casino City earlier this week. “In the states we are operating in we almost can’t even keep up with the demand. A lot of new player registrations, we’re adding tournaments and we’ve seen peak capacity, bigger than we’ve ever seen.”

Some online casinos are upgrading their promotions or even paying out on postponed events to catch the attention of gamblers.

For the second time in March, Intertops Poker increased the prize pool for its popular Sunday Sundowner Tournament from $4,500 to $10,000. The Main Event took place on Sunday, and by increasing the prize pool, the tournament may have attracted players, who usually play at land-based casinos, to consider playing online.

For sports bettors all isn’t lost in their bets. BetWarrior is paying out on all outright bets made on events postponed or cancelled by the pandemic. Users who placed their wager before 12 March will at least be able to console themselves with their winnings.

New Jersey and Pennsylvania saw increases in online betting in February, before the casino closures began. Online betting generated $436.5 million in wagers, 88.2% of New Jersey’s handle in February. Pennsylvania's online casinos and poker rooms generated a record $19.5 million in February gross revenue, up from $14 million in January. With the land-based casinos temporarily closed, online casinos are seeing record numbers. For example, PokerStars celebrated the 14th annual Sunday Million on Sunday with $12.5 million guaranteed, which made it the largest event hosted on the site.

The logistics of live dealer casinos creates an interesting dilemma. Yes, players are able to play online and traffic should also be surging, but for the live dealer games to be played, we need dealers in the studios and studios in the Philippines and Georgia have been forced to close down for the time being due to the coronavirus.

The World Poker Tour is also making changes and adjustments during this time. The WPT is hosting the first WPT Online Series on partypoker in May. Further, the WPT has increased the number and size of events and promotions on ClubWPT to the highest level in its 10-year history.
888Poker is breaking records of its own. This week's Millions Superstorm was the lowest buy-in event in history on 888 Poker to surpass a $1 million guarantee, with a $100 to buy-in and satellite tickets beginning as low as a penny. There is also a $5 buy-in event, the $1 million BLAST. This event features a $1 million prize pool.

Obviously, when we begin getting past the current COVID-19 pandemic, the question of players returning to land-based casinos right away or remaining at online casinos will loom large. Either way, states in the U.S. that don’t allow online gaming currently may have to rethink their position after missing out on the current surge in traffic and subsequent tax revenue.

“It's unfortunate, but a lot of states rely on the casino industry as a good portion of their tax base and with the industry basically shut down right now there are going to be serious implications,” Palansky said. “A smart thing to do is to look at the bigger picture. When life returns to some sense of normalcy there should be a lot of interest among lawmakers in states that don't have online gaming to make sure they don't get caught in a situation like this again.”
Online casino traffic surges during COVID-19 pandemic is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
Dan Ippolito

As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports. Email him at daniel@casinocity.com, or follow him at @casinocity_dan on Twitter.
Dan Ippolito
As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports. Email him at daniel@casinocity.com, or follow him at @casinocity_dan on Twitter.