How Will Casinos Move Forward When the Pandemic Ends?

Just like almost every other industry, the world of casinos and betting shops were hit hard during 2020. Now that social restrictions and the latest lockdown are starting to be eased, it is to be wondered how businesses will return to normal.

Over the last year, restrictions meant that thousands of jobs were lost after casinos and betting shops were forced to close on more than one occasion. The lost revenue was enough to finish off many independent bookies, and the bigger fish suffered too.

William Hill announced the closure of dozens of high street stores, Buzz Bingo closed a number of halls leading to hundreds of job losses, and even casino giant Genting warned of closures and redundancies.

Now there is a slight glimmer of hope for the future, how will casinos get back to normal, or will there be further casualties?

What is the state of casinos right now?

At the time of writing, casinos in the UK were allowed to be open. There are some restrictions in place, and these differ depending on the region or country involved. Scottish casinos must close by 10.30 pm, and cannot serve alcohol for instance.

However, it is a positive step to a return to normal for the customers, the employees, and the business owners. Will it be enough though? Looking at other famous gambling spots around the world gives some indication of how the casino industry is faring.

Las Vegas news channel 8 News Now reports that Las Vegas is starting to look healthy again as it continues its journey to recovery. However, it also reports that it will take at least another year before normality returns if it ever truly does.

Since the pandemic started, casinos, along with bingo halls and bookmakers, have discovered they have a serious rival. Online gambling.

How much of a threat is online gambling to casinos?

Traditional, land-based casinos can offer many different experiences than online versions can. But, players are starting to understand what the benefits of online casinos are.

During the lockdown, more people than ever in the UK searched on Google for a casino online. This led to a surge in new players enjoying online slots, poker, and blackjack, for the first time.

However, it wasn’t only new players that started to play in online casinos. Seasoned players started to try their luck online as poker rooms and casinos closed due to the pandemic. Others joined online bingo games, and many more looked for bookmakers to continue betting with.

Online casinos are a huge threat to some casinos, and others not so much. The damage they can cause to traditional casino’s revenues will depend on a few factors.

When do online casinos harm traditional ones?

Many of the big casinos, and bookmakers, also have online presences. While online gambling takes away some revenue from their land-based establishments, there is a possibility the same customers are using their online games instead.

For instance, a loyal Ladbrokes user who has frequently bet in one of their high street shops may have started gambling online during one of the lockdowns. They may also never return to the high street, however, there is a good chance that due to customer loyalty, they searched for Ladbrokes online and are now using a sportsbook there.

Independent casinos are in a different position though. They are highly unlikely to have a casino online, and so if customers decide to keep using apps and websites, they will lose revenue.

How do casinos bring back the customers?

Casino owners and their management may need to start rethinking how they run their establishments. In Las Vegas and other casino resort destinations, it is commonplace to have high-quality restaurants and different forms of entertainment.

Not everyone visits Vegas to gamble, and the resort owners are very aware of this. British casinos may need to understand that they need to offer more of an experience than just a visit to a gaming floor.

The old image of casinos may need to change and many players and gamblers are indeed sick of hearing about free drinks, and other negative aspects that encroach onto the gaming floor. The old style of marketing needs to go, and casinos need to learn to engage with their customers differently.

Newer technology needs to be embraced

Digital games may start to be used more often in casinos as they try to attract a new generation of players. Virtual games allow players to bet on sports but in a casino environment. Slots and other machines are always popular, and modern games can appeal to a new market.

Bitcoin is becoming very popular online as a way to pay for casinos. In Vegas, at least two casino hotels have installed bitcoin ATMs to make it easier for their players to withdraw. It may be time for casinos to allow cryptocurrency to be used in some form of gambling, although this may need regulation to change before this can happen.

Casino hotels can also use technology to help with the problem of Covid and social distancing.

Social distancing and casinos

Some people, especially older generations may be worried about returning to casinos. Typically, a casino can have hundreds of people moving around in close proximity and this needs to be controlled and handled carefully.

Applications and tech such as RFID, and NFC, can help reduce how much human contact there is while still adding to the casino experience. NFC or near field communication lets a guest check themselves in, and unlock their room, without touching anything apart from their own smartphone.


For casinos to return to normal, they may have to adopt some of the benefits of online gaming. Instead of looking at the generation of players they had before the pandemic, it might be time to start marketing to a younger section.

This might mean incorporating more digital and virtual games, organising special events, and making the casino more of a destination. Experiential marketing works well in retail, and it may work in casinos too. Vegas already knows much about showmanship, the UK may have to copy some of their ideas.