How Has COVID Impacted Brick and Mortar Bookies?

The global economy took a serious hit during COVID-19 as businesses shut down for months on end. The gambling industry suffered a similar fate. Although various online businesses made it to the forefront by jumping on the new opportunity, most land-based businesses couldn’t replicate the success.

Over the last six months, since all non-essential industries shut down in March 2020, notable UK-based GVC Holdings recorded a 50% YoY decline in the net retail gaming revenue compared to the same period last year. Even as online gambling opportunities surfaced, brick-and-mortar operations suffered.

The story is similar, if not worse, for the sports betting industry. With almost all major tournaments standing canceled or postponed, bookies witnessed revenues crashing instantly. Experts believe the slump will continue well into the 2020-21 season, posting a 27% reduction in revenue compared to earlier projections.

Adapting to Change

In the face of adversity, the gambling industry changed its standard operational procedure. Perhaps the best example of the move is a shift in sports betting trends from horse racing and football to esports. According to reports, esports Gross Gambling Yield increased by 2,992% to £1.5 million through March 2020, and the figures further rose 124% in April and 36% in May.


The numbers clearly indicate people’s shifting interests. While esports was always popular among enthusiasts, sports betting introduced the genre to a whole new audience, who are just as thrilled. Even as lockdown restrictions are slowly being lifted, the demand for online gambling and esports betting is projected to remain high.

Sports betting remains the likely candidate to help brick-and-mortar bookies get back up on their feet. And the results have been positive so far. With major sporting events resuming since May, revenue streams have picked up. From £104 million in May, the figures jumped to £255.4 million in June.

Hurdles and Solutions

One of the major highlights of sports betting is live-action. With social distancing regulations keeping the crowds away from the stands, wagering during live events like horse racing is considerably down. However, the authorities are planning to reintroduce spectators at the venue, albeit in much fewer numbers, to test the water.

With Premier League resuming earlier in September, sports betting is slowly getting back on track. And the volume is expected to gain a massive boost with the 2020 UEFA Euro Tournament and the Olympics arriving next summer. The YoY sports betting revenue in 2021-22 is likely to rise by 23.9%.


However, with the tides turning towards online gambling, brick-and-mortar establishments could suffer a minor setback. But with physical operators enjoying greater flexibility over their online counterparts, the difference shouldn’t be significant.

Despite the technological evolution, land-based casinos and gambling operators enjoy the support of a robust fanbase, which should suffice to keep the bookies afloat during the pandemic and help the industry recover within record time. If you’d like to try your hands at online sports wagering, visit NJ Punter.