How the pandemic has affected land-based gambling


There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all small, medium and large businesses across the entire world.

It isn’t just the travel and hospitality industries that are suffering. In this article, we’re going to take a deeper look at how land-based gambling in the UK has been affected.

Players Moving Online

With land-based casinos forced to shut their doors, there was only one place for gamblers to go during the peak of the pandemic, and that’s online. Online gambling has advanced by years due to this current situation, and it’s questionable if it will return once this is over.

Casino comparison websites have become increasingly popular during this period. Players want to find which online casino is the most trustworthy, and who offers the biggest casino bonuses. One online property that has seen their website traffic increase since March is

Generally, people in the age range of 18 to 35 would already gamble via their mobile phone, but now people that couldn’t enter their local bookmakers or casinos have had to open accounts online. This is why there’s been an influx of new customers for online brands.

With the government consistently pushing back the reopening date for land-based casinos, it was no surprise that online gambling kept growing exponentially.

Horse Racing

Where do we start with horse racing, one of Britain’s favourite pastimes has undoubtedly come unstuck in the current climate. There was huge pressure on the government to cancel this year’s Cheltenham Festival. In the end, Cheltenham 2020 was allowed to go ahead at the start of the outbreak in the United Kingdom. This would have kept the bookmakers happy, however, this was one of the last hurrahs before UK racing came to a stop until it resumed at the start of June.

Even though horse racing tracks have since reopened the only visitors allowed are the owners of the courses and a few others. Some independent bookmakers have been taking wagers from the course owners, but otherwise racing punters have had to watch live streams and place any bets online. Just this week, GVC-owned Ladbrokes and Coral announced that they’ll be quitting the betting ring at all racecourses where they had a presence. The company claims that this isn’t pandemic-related though.

Poker Tournaments

One form of gambling that saw a strong increase during the lockdown period was online poker. With casinos closed, in-person tournaments had to switch to online.

Poker is a game that takes more than 30 minutes to play (if you’re good at it), the fact that people had more time on their hands during lockdown meant that poker increased in popularity. In fact, many sports betting brands ran special poker campaigns for their customers.

As soon as the Premier League restarted in May, and lockdown across the country removed this short-lived uplift started to come back to pre-covid levels.

Now, with another lockdown looming will we see online poker websites exploding again?

Closure of Bingo Halls

When it comes to gambling, bingo is the most social of them all. So, the closure of local bingo halls has made it extremely hard for these businesses to survive.

The Rank Group, who owns Mecca Bingo, has had to put a stronger focus on their online bingo offering due to the fact they don’t have the same demand since reopening to the general public. It’s the same for independent bingo halls, and now in highly-infected areas like Liverpool and Manchester they have to shut down again as they enter a tier 3 lockdown.


To summarise, like many businesses during the pandemic, land-based gambling operators have had to turn to online otherwise they’ll completely lose business. It still looks like a tough challenge for independent bingo halls, and bookmakers at race courses but hopefully one that they can survive.