Do People Gamble More During Times of Crisis?

Believe it or not, many investors and gamblers believe that the best time to find value in the stock market is a time of crisis. A time of economic downturn where stocks get beat up and shares of good companies can be purchased at a discount.

While many gamblers may not feel comfortable betting on the stock market and opt to go to the gaming tables instead, that’s no sure bet either. After all, just because the economy may be going through a downturn, doesn’t mean the odds of beating the house have changed.

The idea that putting more money into investments, gambling, alcohol or other not necessarily profitable or not so healthy guilty pleasures happens during times of crisis is a popular theory. This begs the question, is it really true? Do people gamble more during times of crisis? Will COVID-19 and the oncoming recession rearing its ugly head send more gamblers betting sites, both fiat and Bitcoin friendly?

A 2012 study conducted by researchers in the Netherlands suggests that is actually not true. People are actually less likely to part ways with their money during a recession.

The Only Form of Gambling That Increases During Economic Downturns

The studies cited above looked at three different kinds of gambling: pari-mutuel gambling, casino gambling and lottery gambling. For those that don’t know, pari-mutuel gambling is any form of gambling where gamblers wager together and the house takes a cut just for making the game available and setting the odds. Betting on a sporting event is an example of a pari-mutuel gamble.

One might think that a savvy, sharp sports bettor might be doubling down on their wagers during hard times and making the extra effort to increase their bankroll, but that’s actually not what happens.

It turns out that the more risky economic conditions appear to be, the more gamblers are willing to leave the odds to chance. That’s why it’s not casino games like roulette or sportsbooks that see the most action during an economic downturn, it is lottery games.

Picking the Lucky Number

That’s right! Lottery gaming is the only form of gambling that’s actually recession proof.

People will pick their lucky numbers no matter what. This makes sense because many Americans actually believe that playing the lottery is a good alternative to having a robust and sound retirement investment strategy in place. The fact is, people keep playing time and time again thinking that eventually, they will be the one that wins.

The study showed no evidence that lottery gaming is at all depended on the stages of an economic downturn or whatever current business cycle the economy happens to be in. People are always willing to put money down on their lucky numbers.

Brick & Mortar Casinos Feeling Pain

There aren’t too many websites out there that track projected revenues and expenses for Bitcoin gambling sites. Let’s face it, many of them are operated in countries and on islands that act as both tax and regulatory havens for entrepreneurs looking to make money and skirt Know Your Client and other regulations.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to guess what is probably happening to these sites. All we have to look at is the performance of brick-and-mortar casinos during this coronavirus pandemic.

Five of the largest and most recognizable names in the gambling world are seeing their stocks trade anywhere from 35-65% cheaper than they were just a few weeks ago. Some of those names include:

  • Wynn Resorts Limited
  • Las Vegas Sands Corporation
  • MGM Resorts International
  • Boyd Gaming Corporation
  • Penn National Gaming Incorporated
  • Caesars Entertainment Corporation

Anybody that’s been to Las Vegas or even heard of Las Vegas is aware of at least some of the name brands listed above. These are not small companies. They own some of the most extravagant, beautiful and profitable casinos in the world, yet all of their share prices are down significantly.

While more and more people might be desperate to get into Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies at a time when the traditional fiat-based economy is showing signs of taking a nosedive, those newly minted digital currency enthusiasts likely won’t be going to the gambling tables or sportsbooks anytime soon.

If history is any indication, doing so is simply not worth the risk right now.

Jack Choros

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