The announcement of a new Covid variant was something few people expected, and no one welcomed it. Companies in the travel, tourism, hospitality, and entertainment sectors are worried that more lockdowns are imminent. Even if authorities mandate no additional restrictions, news of a new variant might make people reluctant to go out and support these sectors.
Gambling companies are scrambling to prepare for the implications a new Covid variant could have for their sustainability. It is a stressful time, punctuated by uncertainty.
Land-based casinos took a severe knock during the pandemic’s initial stages, losing billions of dollars in revenues worldwide. The American gambling market faced an identical threat. The industry’s only saving grace during this time was online gambling. The introduction of the US online casino in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia, Delaware, and New Jersey meant that companies operating there could still offer their services.
Once gamblers had nowhere else to go but online, virtual casinos saw a dramatic influx of interest among users. Until then, many people had viewed online casinos with suspicion, worrying that their online money transfer or personal information could be intercepted or hacked. However, online casinos follow strict protocols that protect player data and their money.
Omicron and its implications
The Omicron variant was discovered in South Africa. In response to the news, international authorities took a knee-jerk approach, banning travel from several southern African states. As it stands, Omicron has been found in several countries worldwide, including the Netherlands, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong.
Experts believe that Omicron has already spread across the globe and are bracing themselves for higher numbers as further epidemiological processes are applied to positive tests to identify the variant. Despite this, most countries are unlikely to return to draconian lockdowns that characterized the onset of Covid, preferring instead to emphasize the need for people to get vaccinated. While this means that public facilities like casinos will keep their doors open, operators expect a downturn in visitor numbers as people decide to avoid large indoor gatherings. They are monitoring Omicron news to adapt their approaches appropriately.
As good as the real thing?
Many players returned to brick-and-mortar casinos once they reopened. They find that online casinos do not provide the same ambiance. Additionally, they cannot grab a bite to eat or take in a show at a virtual casino.
Other users have vowed to continue gambling online, stating that software developers have created games so realistic that they feel they are in a casino while playing online. They also like the convenience of playing internet slots for an hour or two without having to find a babysitter and/or dog sitter to go to the casino.
Regardless of player preference, online casinos are preparing themselves for another onslaught of players signing up for their services. This means ensuring that their technological infrastructure can meet this added demand without any glitches or downtime. Land-based operations are using what they learned from the first infection waves to attract more users while prioritizing visitor safety.