In this article, we take a look at the top 5 trends the gaming and hospitality industry will face in 2021 and beyond, as predicted by the BDO Covid-19 pandemic.
Trend # 1
Further development and expansion of the online gaming industry
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, traditional casinos have been forced to enter the realm of online gaming and sports betting. In some casinos, online gambling revenue has more than doubled. This fact underlines that online gambling can be an additional source of income for this industry. In 2021, fantasy sports, online sports betting, esports, virtual reality platforms and traditional online gambling (such as blackjack and slot machines) are likely to continue to conquer the market.
Several online gaming platforms have started accepting cryptocurrencies, allowing deposits, withdrawals and gambling using Bitcoin and other digital currencies. The main advantage of cryptocurrency for the online gaming community is increased security and anonymity, which reduce the risk of hacking and identity theft. The use of cryptocurrency could also allow the gaming industry to target younger and tech-savvy players who don’t need traditional banking to play.
New cryptocurrency technologies are currently being developed specifically for the online gaming industry, but can be used in traditional transactions as well. International Game Technology, the world’s largest slot machine manufacturer, is exploring cryptocurrency as a means of payment for casino games, creating the conditions so that they can also accept cryptocurrency.
Trend # 2
More and more regions legalize sports betting
As countries continue to experience significant tax revenues from the protracted pandemic, they are looking for alternative sources of income. For example, we see that government leaders are beginning to take a more positive attitude towards the legalization of online gambling.
We anticipate that the popularity of online sports gambling will continue in 2021, especially as more countries are taking steps to supplement their income by legalizing online sports betting.
Trend # 3
Casinos will continue to focus on safety when playing offline
Hotels and casinos were forced to implement new regulations during the pandemic to comply with security measures. Since it is not known how long the pandemic will last, even with vaccines available, some of these new guidelines — especially those that require significant investment — may take root.
Many casinos are replacing traditional buffets with food halls, including grab-and-go and fast casual, and offer technology to allow visitors to order from their tables. Other changes that may become permanent include revised game room layouts that promote social distancing, with spacing between play positions and Plexiglas partitions between dealers and players. Until vaccines are widely distributed and the pandemic is officially under control, fewer table positions will be offered to players. Other security measures, such as requiring masks and temperature checkpoints at entrances, will last as long as the pandemic, and probably after.
With significant uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 remaining, it is imperative that hotels and casinos pay particular attention to ensuring the safety of employees and guests. It’s also important to keep in mind the impact of these precautions on the customer experience.
Trend # 4
The introduction of digital technologies will be a priority for hotels and casinos
The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies in hotels and casinos, which has contributed to a better customer experience. Hotels highlighted the importance of introducing new technologies in order to simplify the service for guests and ensure contactless interaction.
Allowing customers to control their stay with mobile check-in and check-out has reduced the need for physical interaction between staff and guests. Some polls show that up to 90% of hotel guests prefer mobile check-in to avoid face-to-face meetings. This coincides with the trend of “keyless” check-in, which allows guests to use their mobile phones as a key to access their hotel room.
The mobile trend, allowing contactless payment and mobile booking, is likely to expand so that guests can shop and even gamble as well. The gaming industry is also focused on high-tech solutions using smartphones, and it is likely that this technology will become commonplace in the coming years.
Trend # 5
More mergers and acquisitions expected
With the increase in online gaming activity, the impact of the pandemic, and the accompanying changes in the industry, it is assumed that mergers and acquisitions will continue. In the area of online gaming in particular, we have seen a significant increase in the number of mergers and acquisitions involving some of the largest gaming operators in the world recently. In early 2021, MGM International made a $ 11 billion offer to buy Entain, a sports betting and gambling company based in the Isle of Man. Deals of this magnitude demonstrate a shift in consumer preference and the visionary thinking of major industry leaders about where the industry is heading.
Large market players with large resources have been able to withstand the effects of the pandemic and have ample opportunity to acquire small / medium-sized properties, at a potential discount compared to their pre-pandemic estimates or with smaller players whose resources are being depleted.
While we hope the pandemic is fully brought under control in 2021, its impact on the gaming and hospitality industry will be long lasting. Taking the right strategic steps, including, where necessary, the introduction of new technologies and online gaming platforms, is likely to be a key issue in discussions at the board meetings in 2021.