Before the advent of the Internet and online casinos, conventional casinos were a great source of income for many businesses, governments, and lucky winners. Innovations in information and communication technologies have made it possible for virtually anybody with a smartphone or computer to play live casino games from the comfort of their home.
This article will explore the socioeconomic impacts of online gambling, especially within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its lockdowns, which has forced more people than ever before to be at home for extended periods.
You need money to make money
Even if you aren’t buying a giant property and filling it with fancy decor and awesome slot machines, starting any type of business is a costly endeavour requiring startup capital, skills, and ongoing management of the operations that facilitate money-making once the business is in business.
When considering the economic implications of online gambling, we must remember that, like any other industry, there is a supply chain. When an entity in the supply chain provides a product or service (servers, websites, licensing fees, technical expertise, accounting), they get paid. They have to pay income tax, and with the net pay they receive, they contribute even more by spending that money in their communities.
The human behind the player
The social impact of online gambling itself results from several factors: the Internet, live services, and gambling, to name a few. Many gamblers are at risk of developing a gambling addiction in the United States.
Online gambling is not only financially detrimental to addicts but also socially. A gambler can hide their activities from friends and families for years before the losses start racking up with a smartphone at hand. A lack of trust often follows the collapse of the double life.
A study from the University of Bristol showed how men in the UK were more prone to gambling online than women. Due to clever marketing tactics, vulnerable groups like alcoholics or children are also drawn to online gambling.
COVID-19: The Great Catalyst
In Q1 2020, Earth went into the Great Lockdown. Suddenly, billions of people worldwide were stuck at home, unable to do anything. Major sporting events were no longer happening. Businesses closed. Boredom will set in with enough hours, and what could be more exciting than a quick online wager to kill time?
Regular gamblers were more than six times as likely to partake in online gambling activities once COVID-19 set in than before. Anders Håkansson observed in his research that, from a sample of 997 respondents, people who gambled were much more likely to have done so using online mediums instead of at traditional casinos, horse races, or other conventional types of gambling.
Online gambling is relatively young, but there have been leaps and strides in its growth, especially after the pandemic and lockdowns. The impacts are there, and we need to be cautiously optimistic going forward.