Ever since online casinos entered the gambling industry, there's been talks about whether they are the future of gambling. Land-based casinos, however, stood their stance and fought back. Everything changed during the unexpected worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. While online gambling businesses reported record growth, brick-and-mortar casinos had to close their doors for visitors.
Now, the main question isn't focused on online vs land-based gambling. Instead, everyone wonders whether brick-and-mortar gambling facilities ever recover their losses and glory. While many are skeptical, experts say that it's just a question of time.
Land-Based Gambling Still Expanding
Brick-and-mortar casinos felt the pandemic. They had to let employees go, cease operations, and generate losses. Does this mean they are dead and unable to recover? Probably not!
Even Howard Glaser from Scientific Games expressed beliefs that land-based gambling is here to stay. In fact, the sector is still expanding, and that won't change anytime soon. Another support of this thesis came from Tom Reeg, the CEO of Caesars Entertainment. He revealed that all weekend hotel rooms in their Las Vegas facilities were sold out. Similar reports came from MGM Resorts. March 2021 was one of the best months in the history of the business.
Other land-based casino resorts are experiencing the same pattern. People want to travel, and people want to hang out with other people. Everyone has had enough from being stuck at home, unable to socialize. That's why the gambling facilities that survived the pandemic are likely to now grow in its aftermath.
History Provides Additional Insights
Whenever one's unsure of how things will unravel, one can always search for insights into historical events. That's been highlighted by Mississippi Gaming Commission's executive director Allen Godfrey. Namely, he reminded everyone of Hurricane Katrina's tragic events and devastation that struck in August 2005.
Land-based casinos were, once again, heavily affected by the natural disaster. Gulf Coast casinos were among the closed facilities for almost four months before things got back to normal. What happened afterwards is quite interesting, though. Starting from January 2006, Gulf Coast casinos reopened and noted monthly gaming revenue better than before. Not only there was a swift return to normal operations, but it seemed that the demand was higher too.
After a tragedy, people always want to unwind and forget about the bad times. One of the favorite ways to do so, for thousands of people, is to visit their favorite casino. That's why experts are confident that gambling facilities would return to their previous glory. Naturally, some of them will close. However, land-based casinos used to shut down even before the pandemic.
Are Online Casinos the Enemy?
The pandemic and lockdowns have shown the fantastic potential of all online casinos. It seems that many consumers, even those who never thought of gambling on the internet, gave this activity a chance. Many did it just because they had no other way to indulge in their favorite hobby. Whatever the reason was, the iGaming sector was one of the fastest-growing ones throughout 2020.
A significant share of its revenue came directly from the revenues lost by land-based facilities. That brings us to the question of whether online casinos are the enemy of land-based gambling. After all, that's the main reason brick-and-mortar casinos were so opposed to the concept.
Everyone in the industry remembers the scary scenarios presented for American gambling facilities, job cuts, and taxes lost that would supposedly happen if iGaming was legalized. Yet, what the pandemic has taught us is quite the opposite. Land-based casino operators don't have to be just that. As the many successful partnerships with online platforms have shown, these businesses can profit from both markets.
Take, for example, the BetMGM iGaming site, owned by MGM. In this case, online gambling didn't ruin anything for the operator. On the contrary, it helped it generate money when land-based gambling wasn't an option. If all companies take the same approach, they will grow and expand in two directions. So, next time a crisis hits, they'll be ready to accommodate their loyal customers.
Still, even without online gambling platforms on their offer, brick-and-mortar casinos are far from done. You can't go on a Celine Dion live show at your favorite online casino. Land-based gambling is all about entertainment, while online gambling is all about the experience and convenience. They serve different purposes. That's why they'll both keep growing and intertwining in the years to come.