Like many industries worldwide, the global pandemic had a profound impact on the casino business in 2020.
There were both winners and losers.
Those that had invested heavily in technology and had an online presence gained, saw, in many cases, record profits and soaring customer numbers, such as the new online casinos in Ireland, many of which are listed here. That is because many millions of people across the globe, forced to stay at home due to national lockdowns, turned to online gambling as a way of alleviating the boredom and as a source of entertainment.
However, their gains were at the expense of the traditional bricks and mortar casinos in places like Las Vegas and Atlantic City, who were forced to shutter their doors for months on end because of government restrictions and laws on social distancing.
2021 has not started too brightly for many, with a new wave of lockdowns and tighter measures following the discovery of new, and more contagious, strains of the virus.
Nevertheless, there are hopes for a brighter future will vaccination programmes staring to be rolled-out, and it is expected that later this year, some green shoots of recovery will start to appear.
Additionally, with capacity likely to be limited to 25% only, even when casinos do open again, operators are going to have to come up with innovative solutions to make up for lost revenue.
And that will mean that even the most traditional casinos will need to develop their own digital solutions to appeal to those players who want to gamble but either cannot, or will not, risk visiting one of their physical locations due to the continued risk posed by the virus.
That means developing a top-notch website, ensuring that there is an attractive portfolio of games to be played, and developing suitable customer promotion and loyalty schemes. It also means online advertising, SEO, content marketing and developing a social media presence to attract new customers and maintain a continuous dialogue with existing clients.
And even for those who are prepared to venture out, they will be expecting casinos to respond with better and more stringent sanitary and health conditions, so the necessary investment will have to be included in any corporate budgets.
One technological revolution that will certainly take off is cashless money, not only for convenience but also for health and safety reasons. Sadly, physical money is one of the most dangerous substances when it comes to the handling and the transmission of Covid-19, and should be avoided at all costs.
There are many advantages in a casino setting to cashless money solutions, not least of which is it reduces the incidence of theft, or the temptation for those will ill-intent to hang around casinos preying on the unwary.
From the casino viewpoint as well, increasing the amount of transactions which are physically paid for or received in cash means that money can be saved on physical security in locations (although some of that will need to be reinvested in cyber security).
2021 will bring its fair share of challenges, many inherited from 2020. It is those casinos that embrace those that are likely to come out on top.