Our research reveals that the closure of major US land-based gaming venues and cancellation of live sport has sparked a 100% rise in internet searches for 'online casino' across North America. Currently, more US players search for for 'online casino' than 'sports betting'. The numbers have doubled during the past two weeks.
The research was carried out using Google Trends from February to the end of March this year and uncovered a sharp spike in players searching for 'online casino' following land-based venues switching off slot machines and sports events being rescheduled.
US iGaming Licensing and Revenus
Since the repeal of PASPA in August 2018, 17 US states have regulated sports betting with only five, including Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania opening up iGaming.
Combined sports betting and online casino 'handle' across those US States was more than $1.7 billion in February 2020.
Sportsbook handle is expected to shrink in March dramatically and beyond with operators and states urgently looking to mitigate losses and make up shortfalls. As a result of the surge in online casino interest, lawmakers in states that have already regulated betting could consider fast-tracking iGaming.
According to VIXIO GamblingCompliance, New Jersey alone generated $482.7 million in iGaming Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) in 2019 and $52m in February 2020.
Fast Tracking the Licensing
An industry trade group, iDevelopment & Economic Association, for example, is already urging states to allow online casino games to replace disappearing revenue, including exploring how governors can use emergency powers to quickly allow online casinos to operate.
Fintan Costello, Managing Director, Bonusfinder.com, said: "The five states that have opened iGaming are seeing month-on-month revenue rises with New Jersey leading the way. It has a robust and responsible framework in place to protect players, and has shown that online and offline casinos can operate together within the same territory and consistently generate very healthy returns."
Potential black market risks
This is a wake-up call for the 12 states that have already established online sports betting regime. They should take note of the enormous interest in online casino from players and use this momentum to legislate iGaming before we start seeing players turning to unlicensed, offshore sites and the black market.
The demand will only continue to increase as this unprecedented situation continues, therefore now is the time to focus on providing best-in-class, regulated real-money online casino games that players can enjoy responsibly and that can also help state governments make up revenue shortfalls.
Last month our research uncovered a spike in Swedish players searching for a basket of black-market keywords. Almost a third of Swedish online casino players are searching online for 'unlicensed casinos', with growing numbers turning to black-market brands due to the market's restrictive gaming regulations.