Although gambling has been around for thousands of years, today’s gaming resembles little to the past. Of course we still have dice games, bingo has been around for hundreds of years and card games go back centuries as well but the digital world is changing the landscape.
With the advent of the internet, affordable computers and the ubiquity of smartphones, online gambling is booming. The global gambling revenue is around $490 billion and in 2019 $59 billion of that total was from online casinos and other forms of digital gambling. The predictions for 2020 were $67 billion which equates to a growth rate of over 13% however with the world affected by the pandemic from Covid-19 these figures could be changing dramatically.
How is the landscape changing for traditional gaming? What are the main factors involved that mean online casinos are taking over from traditional methods of placing bets and playing casino games?
Although the digital market was growing year on year this year, 2020 has seen an unexpected change of fortunes to the gambling industry. Coronavirus forced all non-essential businesses to close their doors in many countries. People were quarantined or told to self isolate and many people were put on lockdown with only essential travel allowed. This meant many businesses suffered great financial problems including the gambling industry.
Casinos, bingo halls and bookmakers all had to close. This also affected the online gaming industry but in a positive way. There were more searches for online casinos in April 2020 in the UK than ever before. Internet traffic as a whole grew exponentially and many online businesses saw huge growth. Netflix and other streaming services offered free trials and saw millions of new subscribers.
The reasons for this were simply that people need entertainment and during lockdown they were limited to what they could do but most people have a smartphone and if they have WiFi or mobile data then there is a whole world of fun out there including gambling.
Easily accessed and at anytime
It isn’t just COVID that has made more people head to online gaming but the convenience too. To go into an online casino and play mystery wins and other slot games is just a few clicks away. You don’t even need to gamble money you can download one of the many free to play poker or blackjack games. These games will often contain advertising for casinos and other pay to play games which can draw in new players as well.
Playing online means you can play anytime you like and from wherever you like. There is no need to worry about transport or the extra expense of travel and if you don’t like the casino you are in then you can just leave. Bingo halls are in decline but online bingo is becoming more popular and with younger age ranges than traditionally seen.
Another way the online world is changing the way people gamble is Virtual Reality or VR. Although this is not massively popular yet it could be the next big attraction for new gamblers. The virtual casino is a fully rendered 3D representation that the player can walk around. You would be able to approach slot machines and gaming tables, place your chips and play. Other players would be seen walking around the floors and you could approach them and interact. There could be a big market for this style of gaming for players that like virtual reality games and also want to try out a casino experience without travelling to one. Many people feel intimidated by casinos and that is why online gaming is perfect for this group of people.
Live dealers and casinos
Live casinos employ real life, professional dealers that run the game through the casino’s webcams. You can watch the game unfold in front of you and follow the cards as they are dealt. The dealer can only see your screen name but you can see him or her and you can both speak to each other. This brings a new level of realism to digital casinos such as sbobet.
Online casinos can attract new players in ways that traditional land based establishments cannot. Of course a regular casino can use geolocation technology to target you with adverts but they cannot get the instant customers that online casinos can.
Your smartphone most likely contains GPS. This tracks your location and is very useful for following directions or mapping out your bike rides or runs. However many apps use this to track your location. When this information is put together with your searches and other phone activity it builds a profile of you. This information can be sold on to digital marketing companies who then use it to target you.
Imagine you are searching for a holiday to Australia and you are living in the UK. Next time you browse the internet you might see adverts (if you don’t use AdBlock) appearing offering flights from Heathrow to Sydney. This is because your IP was taken to show your city and country and combined with your search history.
Online casinos can target people effectively and from the advert you are only a couple of clicks away from visiting an online gambling site or downloading a new app. Anyone who plays free mobile games will have seen advertising for these types of games, poker tournaments and slots like book of dead will pop up between rounds.
Online gambling can offer the consumer many more ways to deposit their money and withdraw than traditional casinos can, making it more convenient for the player.
Bonuses and free bets
Although traditional casinos give away free drinks they don’t generally welcome new customers by giving them cash. Online casinos have lower overheads and therefore can afford to offer sign on bonuses and free bets for loyal customers.
Return to Player is the amount of money expected to be returned to the player over a period of time. An RTP of 80% means that over the long term the casino will expect to keep 20% of all money played on that game. Again because of low overheads the online casinos can give much higher RTP’s and return more of the money to the player which in turn keeps them loyal to their brand.
It remains to be seen what a post COVID world will look like for the gambling industry but it seems unlikely that the numbers of visitors to brick and mortar gambling establishments will reach the levels we have seen before. New players will continue to register online and many of the traditional gamblers who went online during lockdown will remain.