The outbreak of COVID-19 has been extremely damaging to many businesses around the world. Those who require customers to enter their premises to make money have been the most severely hit by the pandemic. Land-based casinos are a good example and as soon as the threat of the virus became serious, casinos in the United States and elsewhere around the world were forced to close their doors to the public.

Following months without being to welcome people inside casinos, the beginning of June saw a change in Nevada state regulations. Las Vegas is known as the mecca of gambling and in early June, physical casinos were given the go ahead to reopen and it was great news for all those who rely on the industry. Poker rooms in the city were slow to open up, as only short-handed play was permitted. Since then, more rooms have opened up, as the permitted amount of players per table has increased.

However, following the long break without entering a casino, the question needs to be asked: are poker players still shunning physical casinos?

WSOP empty tables
Empty tables at the WSOP

Using Las Vegas as an example, if you go back to June 2019 and compare the number of people visiting the city to June 2020, overall visitor numbers are down by 70.5%. These are official figures provided by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and provide a damning insight into where the casino industry is right now following COVID-19.

Many of the casinos in Las Vegas were closed for 70 days or more and when they reopened, it was with a limited capacity. The state of Nevada permitted all Las Vegas casinos to open only 50% of their total capacity, but they had little need to worry as the volume of people returning to the casinos was not going to trouble that figure.

Perhaps many of those who were considering a visit to the casinos of Las Vegas or anywhere else in the United States have opted to stay away and play online poker and casino games instead. During the lockdown, while land-based casinos were shut, online casinos and poker rooms of course remained open for business. Gamblers who were missing the thrill of playing at a physical casino may have opted for the online version to make up for the gap in their lives. It is even possible to enjoy online casino games with a real dealer, essentially replacing the need to go to a land based casino. You can read more on live casinos and find out exactly what they have to offer at Gamble USA.

Many land-based casinos, such as those in New Jersey, have opted to spend money on an advertising campaign to try and tempt people back to the casinos. In fact, looking at the statistics for July 2020 and comparing them to the same month last year shows a 21% drop in revenue. However, given the circumstances and the lower capacity restrictions, this is more than acceptable. Unsurprisingly, the figures for internet gambling were much improved this year in comparison to July 2019. However, the numbers coming out of New Jersey suggest people are willing to return to physical casinos and there is a bright future for both land based and online casinos.

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