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In March 2020 COVID-19 was declared to be a pandemic. It has affected almost every country on earth and caused a complete shutdown of many industries and much of the global economy. People around the world are living in lockdown, sheltering in place and managing on a wing and a prayer. 

Several industries, including mask-making companies and pharmaceutical businesses, are doing good business. Market analysts are also pointing at another industry that is making lemonade from lemons – the online welcome bonus casino where people can play for free or for real money prizes on their mobile device or their PC while they stay at home and practice social distancing.

Casino Industry

Worldwide, the casino industry was one of the first and most severely impacted businesses to be impacted by beer coronavirus. Since that time, increasing numbers of people have turned to online gaming. Optimove, a market analysis firm that has been researching the online gaming market, reports that there has been a 43% increase in online poker.

Optimove’s report states that, in comparison to the pre-February 2020 figures, a 225% increase in online poker gaming among first-time gamers has been recorded, leading to a rosy forecast for all online gaming activities.

Omer Liss is Optimove’s head of research. He says that it’s obvious that social distancing, which prevents people from meeting up for their customary neighborhood poker sessions and has closed all land-based casinos around the world, is responsible for the increase. In addition, sports betting has dried up and people are looking for ways for keep themselves busy during their quarantines and stay-at-home orders by engaging in games of chance.

Market Expansion

In its report, COVID-19’s Impact on Online Gaming: Trends & Tips for Marketers, Optimove notes that COVID-19 has brought significant changes to the lives of billions of people around the world. As people’s situations change marketers need to stay abreast of these fluctuations so that they can communicate in a way that is sensitive to the current reality.

Optimove’s report points to the closure of land-based casinos worldwide and the postponement/cancellation of upcoming sporting events including the Euro 2020 European Football Championship and the 2020 Olympics. These closures leave gamers and sports bettors with minimal gambling options. Optimove used March 9th (the date of Italy’s lockdown) as a base and then compared the month that preceded that date with the week that followed that date. They surveyed 10 European companies to determine the direction in which gambling was moving worldwide.

First, they saw that sports betting dropped by almost 30%. Sports betting is a market that affects both brick-and-mortar casinos as well as online sportsbooks.   

In the days following the March 9th Italian lockdown, online gaming started to increase a bit with many sports bettors migrating to online casino gaming. The biggest increase was in online poker playing which jumped 43%. The increase was noted by all gaming companies, with some doubling their poker traffic.

The obvious assumption is that people who previously bet on sports have turned to poker instead. Optimove suggests that another guess might be that the increase also takes into account new players who have begun to play poker to alleviate the boredom of home seclusion.

The report does show that more than half of the new poker players had previously bet on sports at the companies in which they were now playing poker so at least some of them are sports bettors who have now taken up online poker. 

Virtual Sports

Engagement with virtual sports has also increased. Virtual sports, not to be confused with esports, involve electronic games that are similar to fantasy sports in which sporting events are simulated with animations. Bettors then place wagers on the fictional sporting events. Analysts have seen a 30% jump in the number of people playing virtual sports.


Optimove is offering online betting companies several suggestions that, they say, will allow them to optimize the surge in interest in their online gaming products. 

They suggest that gaming companies engage with potential customers based on the situation that people are experiencing in real life.  People are at home, are bored, are struggling with family relationships, are worried and are looking for escapism. Gaming companies should be running campaigns that target those emotions and show people how online casino gaming can meet those emotions.

Gaming businesses should direct campaigns according to customers’ historical data. For instance, to players who have traditionally engaged in the company’s sportsbook, the company might use this opportunity to send them marketing materials that introduce other company products, especially online poker products.

Finally, Optimove suggests that gaming companies should use marketing language that’s broad enough to direct information to players who are sheltering at home because of the situation, let language that isn’t so narrow as to exclude someone who isn’t staying at home, or is staying at home for another reason. 


Marketing professionals are encouraging gaming companies to pay attention to some of the recent trends that can be harnessed  to support the increase of online gaming. They include:

Project Stream

Google and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey launched Project Stream in 2018 to make it easier for gamers to stream graphics-heavy games on their PCs. The goal of Project Stream is to give people with a basic PC the ability to enjoy games with high-definition graphics with only a high-speed internet connection and a free browser.


Today, various platforms can be integrated to offer players multiple options within one brand. In particular, at many casinos, online casino players can migrate from gaming machines to a live dealer platform whenever they want. This is a convenience that appeals to many gamers and its ability should be promoted whenever possible.

Mobile Gaming

Today’s mobile devices can support memory-heavy games and that convenience can and should be maximized to market to the general public. Worldwide, mobile gaming is overtaking PC gaming. Companies should make it clear that their gamers have access to all games via mobile which makes their product all the more valuable to potential customers.


A celebrity-influencer is generally a celebrity who endorses products. The influencer doesn’t necessarily need to be connected to the industry that they’re endorsing – their celebrity status means that people will listen to their opinions, regardless of whether they’re based on knowledge or not. Gaming companies can get social influencers to market their products. 

Any kind of marketing is challenging in the coronavirus era but thanks to online accessibility, online casino gambling is a natural entertainment option for this period of history.

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