The global gambling industry is expected to hit $565 billion in the next two years, with an annual growth of 5.9% since 2018. Online gambling is growing at about 8.7% per year, which will continue to at least 2024.
The biggest economy in the world, the US, announced major deregulations in online gambling in 2018, allowing for freer operations of online casinos. Internet penetration in Latin America and Africa has introduced online gambling and casinos, to new customer segments that have now become the fastest-growing markets in online gambling. Faster 4G and 5G internet will also enable richer online gambling experiences and more features in online casinos. With all these developments, online gambling and online casinos will see very interesting times ahead. Here are some changes that can be expected to take a firm hold going forward;
AI and VR gaming
You can bet on virtual teams in games like football in online casinos. Virtual teams are modeled after real-world teams in popular leagues like the NBA and the Premier League. These types of games have largely been enabled by Artificial Intelligence, just like in computer games. Virtual reality gaming gives the gamer a more realistic experience by placing him in a virtual world, for example, a poker table where you can see and interact with other poker players, and have a more engaging game, for example, by calling out a bluff. This has been enabled by VR devices like the Oculus Rift and HTV Vive.
Access on more devices
For many years, online gambling has been only on desktop computers. Accessibility on devices like tablets and smartphones has been enabled by web responsive technologies implemented in websites. Richer gaming experience has also come with apps. As gadgets get smarter, more functionalities will shift to the apps including VR gaming. Gaming on wearable devices like smartwatches is the next frontier, which will bring more accessibility and engagement for online casino customers.
Mobile experiences researcher, App Annie, predicts that mobile gaming will claim 70% of online gambling revenues in 2020. This will grow as more millennials get into the market, as they are more comfortable on smartphones rather than desktops and laptops.
More Free to Play games
Gambling is a highly competitive industry, and more online casinos are sprouting each day as they become easier to launch. Free to Play (F2P) games are one way in which online casinos are attracting more customers and keeping them online for longer. F2P games are largely for entertainment purposes, but the gamer has to pay a small fee to unlock more features and higher levels. Online casinos get small cash revenues from F2P games but gain a lot of data insights from the players. The online casino can tell the best hour for a gamer, types of games preferred, geographic locations of their gamers and other data. The casino can enrich games experience by delivering the right gaming content to the right audience. Feedback responsiveness is one trend that online casinos will have to keep working on to remain competitive.
Real dealers online
The strong need for human interaction is one reason why online casinos with real or live dealers. They are preferred because they offer a feeling of a terrestrial casino combined with the advantages of gambling from the comfort of home, anywhere in the world. This is more so in games like Blackjack and Baccarat, where gamblers respond to the dealer’s banter, digs and egging on. VR and AR technologies have enriched these experiences by making these online interactions more real-like.
Online casinos have mainly accepted credit cards as the main mode of payment, bank wires, money transfers and online wallets like PayPal. Mobile payments have also been accepted from around 2015. But while cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have been around since 2010, they were late to be accepted as payment and withdrawal methods because of KYC and money laundering issues. However, more online casinos are accepting cryptocurrencies and appreciating their ease of transfer and lower transaction costs. They have also enabled gaming by customers from locations where gambling is very tightly restricted, for example, Taiwan. Cryptos also enable higher deposit and withdrawal limits, without excessive monitoring by the authorities.
Change in technology will continue impacting heavily on online gambling in general and online casinos in particular. A combination of faster internet, smarter games, VR and portability offered by mobile gaming will change the way online gambling is done.