Amidst the global spread of the coronavirus, one country is being hit particularly hard. Italy, the country with the 2nd oldest population in the world, has been completely shut down due to the spread of COVID-19 and the rising death toll. The entire country is under quarantine; people may not fly in or out of the country unless it’s absolutely essential, and residents are required to stay in their homes. All public gatherings have been prohibited — including weddings and funerals.
This strict lockdown is having enormous effects on businesses, and the gaming sector is suffering from this. Arcades, betting shops, and bingo halls will all be closed until April 3rd. However, all hope is not lost for the gambling industry; AWP machines (amusement with prizes) and betting kiosks located in restaurants, bars, and hotels are still active. The operators of the machines simply need to make sure that patrons stay one meter away from each other. The operational hours for venues with these machines have been restricted to 6 a.m. — 6 p.m.
On the other hand, there is some concern that the venues hosting such machines will end up shutting down. For example, a restaurant that has AWP machines could end up being classified as a “gaming hall”, and then be required to close. As of right now though, they can remain open.
At the moment, private clubs may remain open, as long as gambling is not the main activity. But, there is some concern that people could gather for entertainment and thus transmit the virus.
There is currently not much information on how Italy’s iGaming market is being affected, but businesses are predicting that it will offset some of their retail revenue loss. For example, Playtech is hoping that their online casino will lessen the impact of their Snaitech betting shop being shut down.
Gan, an iGaming software supplier, recently released data showing that it has processed over $306 million of online bets in Italy for 2020. Compared to the same period last year, 2020’s bets are up by 8.4%. After Italy’s coronavirus regulations began to roll out on February 23rd, Gan saw an increase of 13.9% over the following two weeks.
Furthermore, Gan’s shares are up by 6.61%. In London, it was 141.79 pence per share as of March 10th. However, Newgioco (another supplier that runs about 2,000 sports betting internet cafes) saw its price plummet 18.52% — which was $2.20 per share on March 9th in New York.
H2 Gambling Capital (an organization of data specialists in the gambling industry) has estimated that an 8% decline in global gambling revenue compared to last year would be the worst-case scenario. In the best-case scenario, the industry is facing a drop of at least 1% for 2020, compared to 2019. Global gambling revenue for 2020 may also fall 4.8% shy of H2’s original revenue forecast of $475 billion.