Among self-declared gamblers that took part in a YouGov poll in Hong Kong, 42 percent said they had strong concerns about visiting a land-based casino in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The finding was contained in a new YouGov report on its public-opinion work covering the sector: “Global Gambling 2022: The consumer view in the gambling debate”. YouGov is an Internet-based market research and data analytics firm, based in the United Kingdom.
The entire Hong Kong sample size – bettors and non-bettors – gathered via online response was 508. Macau, also a special administrative region of China, is the only place in the nation where casino gambling is legal.
Survey respondents across the world were asked a number of questions, including whether they agreed or disagreed – and to what extent – with the phrase: “Thinking about Covid-19, I would now be quite happy to visit a casino in my country.”
For Singapore – which has a duopoly of land-based casinos – 54 percent of self-declared gamblers said they would have major concerns about visiting a casino in the light of Covid-19. The sample size for all the consumers polled in the city-state was 1,005, and described as “nationally representative”.
YouGov said in its report: “Hong Kong and Singapore show perhaps a surprising lack of willingness to visit casinos,” with the Hong Kong data for all consumers “seeing 31 percent strongly disagreeing that they would be happy to visit a casino in light of Covid,” and the Singapore data for all responding consumers “showing 44 percent who strongly disagree while a further 26 percent tend to disagree”.
The polling firm added: “Concern is slightly lower among monthly bettors but in Hong Kong and Singapore it remains high at 42 percent and 54 percent respectively.”
YouGov further stated, referring secondly to measures taken in Macau in relation to a recent community outbreak of Covid-19: “Of course, with regard to Hong Kong the ongoing restrictions in Macau – including another closure of casinos in early July 2022 – means the reluctance to visit is effectively part of Chinese policy.”
A number of investment analysts has indicated Hong Kong consumers had contributed as much as 15 percent of Macau’s annual gross gaming revenue (GGR), prior to Covid-19 disruption.
While the border between Macau and Hong Kong is not closed, the current need for travellers to undergo quarantine when inbound to Macau has rendered impractical the kind of short visit that used to be favoured by Hong Kongers prior to the global public health emergency.
The YouGov report authors added: “Things are better with regard to official policy in Singapore, but a high degree of wariness over Covid appears to still be in evidence. This is problematic for markets already missing tourist traffic and hoping for higher local visitor levels.”
Singapore has a duopoly of land-based casino resorts: Marina Bay Sands, run by a unit of Las Vegas Sands Corp; and Resorts World Sentosa, run by Genting Singapore Ltd.
Online wagering has been touted by its promoters as a practical alternative to in-person casino gambling in an era of Covid-19. China says it is illegal for its citizens to use any online gambling service.
Singapore’s Gambling Control Act, which came into effect on August 1, increased penalties for unlawful gambling, whether conducted in physical premises or online, and imposed stiffer penalties for repeat offenders who facilitate or operate unlawful gambling services.
Only a few wagering platforms with online distribution – including Singapore Pools – are lawful for consumer use in that nation.
YouGov’s polling in Singapore found that 56 percent of respondents thought “online gambling should not be allowed,” compared to a global average of 46 percent of respondents thinking that way.
“This makes the republic the fourth most-opposed to online gambling globally, with only people in Spain (57 percent), India (57 percent) and China (56 percent) expressing greater resistance,” said a Monday press release from YouGov Singapore Pte Ltd.
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