As far as disruptive markets go, the gambling industry is one of the most noticeable. The transition from physical, brick-and-mortar casinos – a process that has particularly accelerated over the past decade – into a digitally-capable, mobile world has produced vast monetary valuation. Figures vary, but in 2019 the online gambling industry was worth roughly $50 billion and has a CAGR of around 8%. It’s expected to grow in size to almost $80 billion by 2026, as adoption rates continue to rise.
In technology, what’s known as the adoption curve is the typical speed and trend of users acquiring a new service. Online gambling benefits from the universality of mobile devices. Its easy to access and engaging nature, combined with historic popularity, and familiarity, made it a suitable entity to successfully make the shift into digital formats. While the online gambling world is clearly in a mature stage, like any competitive industry, speculating on what sort of directions it could go in makes for some interesting theories.
One of the fundamental aspects of online casinos and gambling is loyalty to what an audience knows. For example, supporting classic slot games has proven to be a popular option for a userbase that can range in familiarity with technology, but will have a strong sense of the sort of formats they like to use. Therefore, innovating in that space means looking outside of the games themselves to how platforms can offer new, engaging experiences.
As an example, Space Casino offers ‘Space Missions’ – essentially bundling classic games together into an objective-based user journey, and a competitive leaderboard based on how many spins a user takes to reach the objective completion. There’s no doubt that this sort of development will continue to be a simple way to re-invent casino games without breaching the familiarity gap of the games themselves. Like the way in-play betting just increases the closeness of a player to the event itself, gamification of the slots themselves makes for a more complete user journey of the platform, and a more satisfying experience.
Currency acceptance is something that’s in its infancy when it comes to online gambling. Therefore, we’re talking in hypotheticals here. However, the rise of cryptocurrencies has led to a lot more speculation on when platforms, like casinos, will begin to try to facilitate the deposit and withdrawal of these less-common forms of payment. Withdrawal speed has been a sticking point for the better platforms for some time – often a difficult process that requires effective clearing banks and payment processing to avoid delays.
The logical next step is to try and accept a greater number of currencies, particularly those that exist entirely digitally. Speed, for the time being, is king, but deposit/withdrawal performance could be judged on its flexibility as much as its speed in the coming decades.
Virtually A Reality
VR experiences are another burgeoning concept in a commercial application. The mobilisation of VR, for example, affordable headsets, or Augmented reality via smartphones could be the gateway to innovating the sports betting space. In the present, the challenge for platforms is supporting the widest selection of leagues and regions, to allow players the freedom to jump in on the action 24/7, whenever they choose, and across whichever sports they’re interested in. The future could be the introduction of virtual events and casino environments, bringing the user ever closer to the in-play experience. Bar paying for a ticket and sitting in the stands, it would be a real paradigm shift if online casinos could offer an experience like this.