Lockdown deals a positive hand to online gaming businesses

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

By Gaming Media

Popular bingo brand Buzz Bingo is to close 26 clubs in a massive restructuring in response to the disruption caused by Covid-19. The bingo operator announced in a statement that only 12 clubs would be reopening come 6th August.

In line with Government procedures, Buzz closed its chain of clubs on the 21st March during the nationwide Coronavirus lockdown. The lack of retail business has had a significant impact on the company, prompting the move to shutter shops permanently.

In a statement on the group website, Buzz Bingo CEO Chris Matthews made the unfortunate announcement. He said: “We could never have expected this outcome when we closed our doors on 21st March, but the coronavirus crisis is a completely one-off event.”

With the statement came a list of the clubs that would not be reopening as part of the restructuring. The full list of closures includes Chatham, Salford, Salisbury, Antelope Park, Banbury, Boston, Bournemouth, Bridlington, Carlisle, Chorley, Cramlington, Derby Foresters, Edinburgh Westerhailes and more.

The aim of the restructuring is to secure a long term future for the company, focusing on the 12 clubs to be reopened in August. The firm’s  popular online bingo site also continues to operate, offering a range of online slots and bingo.

Its the latest in a string of retail casualties as land-based gambling businesses start to feel the squeeze of over four months in Limbo. With Genting UK also  announcing a mass of redundancies due to the lack of retail business across its 42 casinos.

American casino operators are also feeling the strain with Boyd Gaming announcing a string of layoffs, reporting that 25% – 60%  of its workforce will lose their jobs due as a result of the coronavirus.

In a positive turn of news, online business shows promising growth. Operators have seen record revenue since the start of the pandemic. The Stars Group, who recently merged with Flutter Entertainment saw a 44% year on year increase in international revenues.

Gaming revenue also tripled for fantasy sports operator FanDuel, though operator Flutter did attribute this to growth in general.

Despite some operators announcing booming revenues, others have not seen such promising figures. BGO founder Richard Skelhorn announced in a blog post that the casino only saw an 8% increase in revenue and 4% increase in deposits from March. In a blog post, he announced this would be expected earnings from bad weather – or a good weekend.

While casinos have responded to the lockdown with extra bonuses and free spins, there have been fears that problem gambling would increase in confinement. Countries took to drastic action at the start of the pandemic, restricting deposits to stave the potential problems that could arise.

However, new data seems to suggest that healthy gambling habits have been observed.