COVID-19 has been a part of our lives for about 18 months now, becoming an inseparable part of our lives. And while many countries still battle with the virus, others show promising signs of getting life back to normal.
That, of course, includes reducing Covid restrictions and re-opening land-based casinos. In turn, those things remind people that joining the best poker sites is no longer the only gambling option.
Where can poker players enjoy a restriction-free gambling session? Which countries still have social distancing restrictions in place? And how will it affect online poker? Let's find out the answers to those burning questions.
Playing Poker and Gambling Around the World
In the US, land-based casinos have received the green light to open their doors – without restrictions – in multiple states.
In Mississippi, the Gaming Commission revoked previous instructions on occupancy limits as of April 2021. At first, local casinos were shut down completely. Two months later, they re-opened with a 50% capacity protocol. However, since July 2020, venues were allowed to reach a 75% maximum capacity.
Also, it was decided that wearing a mask when visiting a casino was no longer mandatory. Instead, the Commission urged gambling venues to follow state rules and local rules when Covid-19 is concerned.
However, it seems as if casinos are not in any hurry to get rid of those restrictions. At this moment in time, many venues follow the CDC's recommendations, still asking visitors to wear masks while inside.
Another state that follows similar guidelines is Las Vegas. While gambling venues in the City of Second Chances also raised occupancy levels to maximum capacity, they are more than glad to get rid of social distancing measures. According to news reports, the Wynn casino begins to take down the plexiglass dividers that separated between players at the tables.
At the same time, both visitors and employees will still have to wear masks while remaining indoors. However, not all casinos are ready to part with the dividers so soon, and many gambling venues announced they will stick to existing rules for the time being.
As the number of COVID cases in the UK are subsiding with every passing day, things slowly re-open with the governments' approval. The goal is to breathe new life into the hospitality sector on May 17, and that includes land-based casinos.
Poker games will resume, new and exciting tournaments will take place, and players will be able to enjoy their favorite casino games in more than 30 locations. And like many Las Vegas casinos, players will be required to wear a mask and sit behind a plexiglass shield. In addition to that, casinos won't sit players at all tables due to social distancing rules.
And hopefully, by June 21, all Covid restrictions in the UK will be lifted, getting life back on track.
Online Gambling Data
Since land-based casinos begin opening their doors, experts try to figure out what that means for online gambling venues. In 2020, online poker revenues reached an all-time high all over the world, as people spent more time betting while staying at home.
According to Statista, online poker revenue in France almost doubled after the pandemic hit. Up until 2019, the industry generated about €270m per year, but in 2020, online casinos raked in more than €440m.
In the UK, by the end of 2020, the Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) increased by 30%. Slots were especially popular, as slots GGY increased by 13% to approximately £200m. During this time, the demographic of online casino members changed drastically, as those venues attracted the attention of younger players.
But even though those numbers indicate that Covid-19 was mainly responsible for the increased interest in the online gambling industry, that doesn't necessarily mean numbers will drop dramatically once land-based casinos re-open.
Even before the pandemic, online casino revenues were on the rise. According to the UK Gambling Commission, remote casino games brought in £3.2bn in 2019 – a 3.9% increase from the previous year.
Even though live poker is now available in many venues around the globe, online casinos will probably remain popular for the time being. Even if revenues will decrease a bit, the industry has been flourishing in recent years, and the numbers won't seriously decline.