New year, new industry
We’ve now endured more than two years of the ‘new normal’ after Wuhan officials first detected coronavirus. Since then, the global gambling industry has changed in many ways. While some firms have struggled with the impact of the virus, others have grown larger than ever before.
Last year provided many highlights for the sector. The US sports betting industry continued to flourish, with states such as Arizona, Louisiana, Connecticut, and (briefly) Florida all opening their doors to legal wagering. At the same time, the rapid recovery of Las Vegas surpassed the expectations of many, while Macau casinos continued to struggle with restrictions on travel.
VegasSlotsOnline News has taken a look into its crystal ball
As we step into the unknown of 2022, VegasSlotsOnline News has taken a look into its crystal ball to provide some industry predictions for the coming 12 months. From sports betting in Canada to the adoption of a digital currency in Macau, the new year certainly poses some interesting possibilities.
Betting to take Canada by storm
One major highlight of 2021 was Canada’s decision to open its doors to a multibillion-dollar industry. The nation’s legislators legalized single-event sports betting in August, officially introducing the vertical for the first time at the end of that month. Prior to this point, the country’s bettors could only place parlay wagers.
If the rapid growth of the US betting industry is anything to go by, Canadian sportsbooks are in for some major success in 2022. Estimates suggest that Canadians place CA$500m (US$399.5m) worth of legal parlay bets each year, but CA$14.5bn (US$11.6bn) worth of sports wagers overall. This means bettors previously wagered billions through offshore sportsbooks.
With sportsbooks now able to capitalize on this previously inaccessible market, operators are making their moves. In October, Penn National Gaming completed its $2bn acquisition of Toronto-based Score Media and Gaming Inc, owner of the most popular sports media app in Canada. PointsBet has adopted a similar tactic, increasing its Canadian exposure by signing partnerships with The Nation Network and Curling Canada.
With commercial sportsbooks and provincial gambling operators now chomping at the bit, VSO has no doubt that 2022 will be the year for betting to take Canada by storm.
Regulatory overhaul for UK
For the past few years, the negative perception of gambling seems to have increased in the UK from both the mainstream media and government officials. As a result, lawmakers have decided to take action by reforming the industry’s rules through the Gambling Act 2005.
an analogue law in a digital age.”
Speaking in December 2020, secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) Oliver Dowden described the Act as “an analogue law in a digital age.” The review officially began shortly after he made those comments, but not much has happened since then. The DCMS actually confirmed in February last year that changes won’t take effect until 2022, making this year a real moment of truth for the UK’s many gambling firms.
Undoubtedly, operators should anticipate some sweeping changes. A ban on front-of-shirt betting sponsorship deals for professional soccer teams is one of the most widely reported incoming reforms. This will have a major impact on the sector and its soccer partners, with nine of the English Premier League’s 20 clubs boasting front-of-shirt sponsorship deals with betting firms this season.
Other possible rule changes under consideration include staking limits for online casino sites and a ban on controversial loot boxes in video games. The Gambling Commission’s role is also currently under review partly as a result of its supposed failings in the collapse of soccer betting firm Football Index.
Whether all of these changes come to fruition is another story altogether, but VSO predicts UK gambling regulation will look very different by the end of 2022.
Challenges ahead in Macau
Casino operators in the global gambling mecca of Macau experienced a difficult 2021. According to figures from the Gaming Inspection Coordination Bureau, gross gaming revenue totaled MOP$83.86bn (US$10.82bn) for the year. While that might represent a 44% improvement from the COVID-stricken 2020, it is still down 70% compared with 2019.
2022 will pose fresh challenges outside of just coronavirus
Those difficulties are certainly not over as we wave goodbye to 2021. Macau is still struggling with the impact of COVID-19, recently announcing an imminent two-week ban on international travel, and 2022 will pose fresh challenges outside of just coronavirus.
The licenses of all six of Macau’s casino operators are due to expire in June this year. Reports suggest that officials are prepared to renew those concessions prior to the expiration date, but not before they complete a regulatory overhaul in the gambling hub. Shares in Macau’s casino operators plummeted in September when a regulatory consultation began, losing around $14bn in value altogether.
Something that could spice up life for Macau’s casino operators is the possible introduction of digital yuan. In April, Macau chief executive Ho Iat Seng confirmed the government will work with China’s federal bank to “study the feasibility of issuing a digital currency.” Although the region’s gambling operators are reportedly against the idea, analysts believe the license renewals could force them to accept the government’s plans.
With its regulatory overhaul, license renewals, and a new currency in the cards, VSO predicts Macau is in store for another turbulent year in 2022. That said, it is safe to predict that the region will continue to recover, albeit very gradually, from the devastating impact of 2020.