Key Search phrase “US Online Casinos” see significant increase to fill the void of closed land based casinos.
These are historic times with the closure of all US land based casinos. In addition, all US sports (Professional and College) have been suspended indefinitely, halting the previously growing sports betting market. With this huge restriction of gambling avenues available to US Players, there has been a significant rise of key search phrases such as “US Online Casinos”. As reported by Chris Wong, Managing Director of GambleDex.com, statistics show that towards the end of Feb flowing through to the first two weeks of March, Google searches saw up to an average of 300% increase of daily searches for US Players looking to play at online casinos.
How are these statistics tracked?
Google offers the public the ability to see key phrases that users are entering in their search engine via their Google Trends application. Through this portal it can be seen that a tremendous spike of casino related key searches, which included the words “Online Casino” coincided with the limitation and closure of US land based casinos. Key search phrases commonly included the US state name followed by Online Casino in the search, for example, “Michigan Online Casinos” or “Washington Online Casinos”. Other online casino gaming key phrases also rose during this period, such as “online blackjack” and “online slots”, though not as significant as the key phrase “online casinos”.
Other search engines, such as Bing and Yahoo, also saw a spike in casino related key phrases. Although these search engine analytics are not nearly as advanced as Google’s, their headline data searches all trend upwards.
What impact has this had to online gaming?
The increase in searches is indicative of the importance of the gaming industry to the US market. Land based casinos generate a massive amount of tax revenue for respective US States, and of course jobs. With the closure of land based casinos, this has led to a void in tax revenue plus job losses. Filling this void is not simple, because for many US States online gambling laws remain ambiguous. There are only a handful of states that have clear and defined laws allowing online gambling such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but for most States, they have been tardy and have State gambling laws that reflects a gambling environment before the advent of the internet.
Thus, in some US States, there is a push to formally legalise online casinos and to fill the tax void that has been created due to the closure of land based casinos.
In the meantime, US residents are fast turning to offshore online casinos to get their gambling fix with sites such as Bovada and BetOnline leading the charge. But how are customers avoiding getting transactions declined considering the UIGEA prohibits banks from transferring funds related to gambling? The solution many have found is to utilize cryptocurrency instead as its anonymous nature makes it a perfect answer to this problem. By utilizing cryptocurrency, it also allows for almost instant deposits and withdrawals. Another option is to use gift cards instead which also bypasses having to process transactions through a bank.
Land based casinos anxious to reopen
The coronavirus has left land based casino anxious to reopen; In Las Vegas, the most renowned city for gambling, streets are eerily quiet and many laid off employees are waiting with baited breath for when the casinos can reopen. With currently over 350,000 furloughed works now claiming unemployment benefits throughout Nevada, the situation is becoming more and more urgent.
With hopes to improve the situation, Nevada’s Governor, Steve Sisolak, is determined to reopen casinos in May, starting with Wynn and Encore with other casinos hoping to reopen in June. However it Is still unknown whether it is safe to do so. And even if casinos were able to reopen, they would most certainly still have to adapt to social distancing measures. The amount of visitors would also expected to be quite low considering the current international travel bans in place.
What is the trend being seen in other countries?
Key word phrase searches in other countries such as Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and the UK, are also experiencing a spike for “Online Casinos”. However, these countries have laws which are common across their States and Provinces, i.e. it is regulated at a Federal (National) tier. And with consistent laws from State to State / Province to Province, key search phrases often are the Country of residence followed by “Online Casino”. This is a key difference to the US, whereby each state has differing laws, and therefore US Player search more commonly include the State name as part of the key phrase search.
Dip in “Sports betting” searches
Conversely, sports betting phrases are being searched much less due to sporting events being suspended until further notice.
The unexpected effect of the current coronavirus global pandemic has, in particular, been detrimental to the five states of Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania who recently opened up state regulations to allow for online sports betting.
Perhaps the surge in online casino participation will prompt lawmakers in each state to accelerate opening up to the iGaming industry to make up for losses in sports betting revenue. In the meantime, residents outside of the five legalized states will have to settle for playing at offshore online casinos.
Gambling is a huge part of the US culture and economy. The indefinite closure of land based casinos, has led to US Players searching for “Online Casinos”, which can be tracked through Google Trends and other Search Engine traffic applications. The surge in online casino gaming has prompted discussions in some states to formalize online gambling laws to fill the void in tax revenue. Other countries, besides the US, are also experiencing a surge in searches for online casino gambling phrases, which indicates that the US is not alone with the rise in popularity of online casino gaming.