Land-based casinos took it on the chin in 2020 and they’re likely to continue taking a hit early in 2021. Obviously, much of the world has been shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic but the good news is we’ve got internet to keep us company — Imagine all of this happened without it.
One of the best areas to take your mind off of things has been online gaming as it’s grown by leaps and bounds in 2020. Players have flocked to online casinos to quench their thirst and that’s pushed the companies to innovate even more.
Online Casino Trends 2021: Esports
Esports continues to grow at an astronomical pace and betting on the games is starting to catch up. In 2020, we started to see sportsbooks and casinos post all sorts of lines for games that we had never seen before. Traditionally, it had just been League Of Legends and Fortnite at many shops but nowadays, you can find lines on RocketLeague, Counter-Strike, DOTA2, Warcraft, Madden, NBA2K and much more.
Even better is the fact that some companies have expanded the offering to have props, futures and live betting on all of the major events. In 2021, look for more books to allow you to live stream the games right from your sportsbook account, so that you can follow the action as it goes down. Also, expect more leagues and games to come up on the radar. Some of the most anticipated games of 2021 include Far Cry 6, God Of War: Ragnarok and Overwatch 2.
More Advanced Slots
There was a period of time where playing online slots simply meant play a 2D spinner. Nowadays, the slots have become so advanced with 3D bonus rounds, great sound effects and impressive visuals. As we move through 2021, expect all of the major games developers to continue taking the games to new heights.
The key is that the processing power and graphics chips of bonus desktop computers and mobiles (including phones) have become so formidable that they can handle a lot more. Maybe five years ago, a phone would lag a little bit on a 3D slot. Nowadays, the new iPhones and Androids can handle anything you throw at them. Look for companies like Betsoft, Microgaming and IGT to really take games to new heights in 2021.
More Legalization Across the United States
The United States is becoming much friendlier to all types of gaming. It seems like every time you read the news, there’s a new state legalizing something either in-person or online. Even Nebraska has gotten onboard. They were one of the last states to allow casinos in but they have finally legalized them.
Of course, all of the different states move at their own speed. Some, like New York, are still stuck on legalizing sports betting while others – like New Jersey – have legalized it have upwards of 20 online sportsbooks available to customers.
States like Michigan are coming online for sports betting this year while others like Arizona appear to be on track to at least discuss it this year. Other states will be legalizing online casinos and some others will simply be discussion regular expansion. At any rate, it’s all good for bettors these days as the United States is now friendly to sports and casino gaming. There used to be a time not to long ago when it was completely frowned upon.
We haven’t seen many casinos dive into virtual reality all that much yet, but it’s coming. The key to this is that virtual reality headsets and equipment have come down in price so much that now it’s affordable for the average person. When it was around $1600-$2000 a pop, very few people could get onboard. That meant developers weren’t interested in investing too much into the games. Now that you can get an Oculus headset for a few hundred bucks, developers are rushing in to create experiences for those devices.
Casinos are going to join the fray too. When you read the section at the end, you’ll see that COVID-19 is still going to be with us quite a bit this year. That being the case, online casinos have the opportunity to recreate an even more realistic casino experience for you without you leaving your home. Imagine you pop on the headset and you can see others in a virtual casino, walk around, sit at different tables and have a grand ‘ol time. Customers already love the live dealer experience and that’s a very small sample of what can be done. If they can create a full, immersive experience, this would take online gaming to the next level. Look for us to get a peak at some gaming like this late in 2021.
Land-Based Casinos Face Headwinds
One other thing to note is that online gaming will continue to grow by leaps and bounds in 2021 because we’re still not clear for regular land-based gaming yet. The brick-and-mortar casinos still face significant headwinds, which will keep players sticking to online and avoiding the land-based shops for now.
One thing that we’re sure to see in 2021 is more sanitization. If you thought it’s going away — it’s not.
Let’s start with the obvious: if COVID-19 hangs around, casinos are going to continue to be extra careful. That includes possible temperature checks upon entry, plexiglass dividers in between players at all of the table games and tons of cleansing of cards, chips, machines and more.
On the other hand, even if COVID-19 starts to recede, we’re still going to see plenty of this. Remember that there could be a third wave or maybe this coronavirus lingers around like the flu typically does (each season). That means everyone is going to be extra cautious to prevent even more outbreaks.
Sanitization and social distancing aren’t going anywhere, unfortunately. That’s going to turn some people off and keep them playing online.
Vegas Won’t Come To Life Until Late In 2021
The general hope is that vaccinations (assuming they work) are going to allow us to get back to normal life. The issue is that there isn’t enough of the vaccine to go around, so we’re going to be in a position where some people get it right away, some people receive it in the first quarter of 2021 and some have to wait until the summer and beyond.
Early estimates suggest that travel gets back to normal in the fourth quarter in 2021, which means the Las Vegas Strip and all the fun events that go with it – pool parties, conventions, esports, sports betting and more – are back to normal late in 2021.