2020, with all its faults and misfortunes, turned out to be a pretty lucrative year for several industries.
Companies like Netflix saw a huge increase in membership in early 2020 as the lockdowns were enacted, so did many companies in the video game and online learning industries.
One of the industries that grew during the crisis was online gambling. The market cap had an 11% growth during 2020 and is predicted to grow even further.
No wonder more and more countries are opening up to this lucrative market in 2021. Let’s look at a couple of new additions to this industry and theorize on the industry’s future.
The Netherlands postpones the rollout
The Netherlands is one of the few big European countries that did not have online gambling rules until recently. In 2019, the legislators decided to finally put an end to this grey market and enact legislation to legalize gambling.
Due to a 20% increase in gambling in 2018, some legislators were quoted saying the government lacks the means and institutions to counteract illegal activity, so it’s better to tame the beast than to resist it.
However, 2020 has been a tough year for everyone from small business owners to musicians.
Apparently, it did not spare the Dutch and international investments either as the newly created Dutch regulator received a lot fewer license claims than expected.
As the lockdowns interfered with both the private and public sectors, the regulator announced another delay — the gambling market laws will come into effect as of September 1, 2021. Initial piece legislation stated March of the same year as the starting date.
This decision doesn’t seem to attract any criticism from the license holders, it’s seen as a necessary step to ensure the newly founded systems are working properly and the market is competitive.
Ukraine’s rushed launch
Ukraine’s economy wasn’t booming before the lockdowns, and given that the newly elected president Zelinsky was trying to create an image of a free-market champion, 2020 was the perfect opportunity to legalize a market with a lot of potentials.
The only problem that the lawmakers encountered was making the rollout too fast to be effective.
As opposed to the Netherlands where lawmakers postponed the launch by six months, Ukraine’s gambling laws were in effect several months after signing the legislation.
This left the market somewhat of a Wild West, with investors weighing their odds as new information was still being released.
As much as free-market think tanks applauded this decision, especially considering the fact the gambling market will help out the government’s failing budget, many criticize it for being a bit too rushed.
On top of that, there are fears of gatekeeping on the market.
Investors and gambling businessmen are afraid to enter the market as there’s uncertainty about the terms of the game.
Up until recently, the regulator hasn’t decided on the amount of licensing payments, and the law enforcement busted up a gambling hub after the laws were in effect. This leaves a lot of room for doubts on whether to enter the market.
As for the gatekeeping claims, some areas of the gambling bill seem to favour the big players.
For instance, only 5-star hotels have the right to register a casino parlour, and the number of Las Vegas-style gambling zones is limited to five in the country. Industry leaders say this may leave room for the ultra-wealthy to snatch the industry and monopolize it.
Regardless of the possible problems in the land-based gambling market, online gambling seems to be a good bet for Ukraine. The licensing fee is low enough to foster market competition which will be a win-win-win scenario for this nation.
Talks of legalization in Australia?
With the trend of legalization of online gambling growing bigger and bigger, will Australia follow the lead of its counterparts in the UK and move forward to legalize it or will it remain on the same page as South Africa?
It’s too soon to give a definitive answer, but there have been calls to change the legislation in 2020.
Some pundits and lawmakers in Australia also believe it would be a good decision, especially considering the fact it could help the economy recover in the wake of COVID-19 and fallout in its relationship with China.
It would make both financial and regulatory sense as the country can use an additional stream of revenue in these trying times and already has the regulatory authority that can oversee the new market.
With that authority in place, the rollout of the online gambling market could be far more productive than in two new marketplaces of 2021. It will take less time than in the Netherlands and be less hectic than in Ukraine.
Will the lawmakers follow the trend and help the economy, expanding the gambling sites list made for Australians? It appears only time will tell.
What to expect from online gambling in 2021
2020 was no walk in the park and 2021 seems to be no less of a year in terms of economic growth.
Many governments still want to keep the lockdowns as new cases of COVID-19 surge, and businesses will struggle to operate in this new economy.
However, if you could bet on it, you’d be safe to guess that some industries like online betting, video games, and video streaming services are only starting to grow with millions of people under stay-at-home orders again.