Since its advent, the internet has evolved in ways even its creators couldn’t have imagined. Many industries have incorporated the internet as part of their craft, growing the data management idea to an international communication platform. The use of services on the virtual market has increased 28% in the last decade, giving rise to e-commerce and bolstering the development of online technologies.
The gambling industry is certainly no stranger to the internet. Sports betting and lotteries went online in the 90s and online gambling empires in regions like the UK have cultivated developments in tech and gaming for years. So, what can industry experts and players alike look forward to in the rapidly changing environment of online gambling in 2021? A look at trends in the past year and exciting new technologies can give us some clues.
Just like the internet, cell phones have advanced far beyond their original capabilities. They’ve turned into smartphones, offering users nearly everything a computer or a console can. The versatility and necessity of smartphones warrant many households to own at least one and most markets have picked up on this, including the gaming and gambling industries. Some of the most popular esports titles are mobile games like “Arena of Valor”, “Call of Duty” and other war games, while classic games are getting mobile ports.
Major online casinos started to update their platforms to ditch PC software-style sites and cater to mobile players years ago with apps and mobile-specific formatting. Most other sites are following suit, even developing customization options like skins and bonuses for mobile users.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
Virtual reality captured the attention of the video game world, first as a novelty and then, when the technology caught up, as a more practical and exciting way to play. As technologies for VR and augmented reality become more accessible, players can expect to see these unique techniques incorporated into online gambling.
Taking a stroll through a virtual casino, interacting with other players using digital avatars, and sitting down to play at a slot machine or a live table game are all things that are possible with VR and AR. Taking a look at some of the best online gambling sites like the ones found here, it’s easy to see how the sites’ designs try to lend that real casino experience. This year, they might actually be able to make it a “virtual” reality.
Esports and Professional Gaming
The explosion of esports has taken gaming and gambling by storm, becoming its own industry and creating a new kind of niche entertainment. Esports has become so mainstream that even David Beckham has his own team and made headlines when he floated them on the London Stock Exchange, raising billions from investors before the team had even played a single match. Esports competitive events have moved from in-person tournaments to online meets and professional players make ends meet by streaming solo on the side for fans and patrons, often taking up influencer roles.
The rise of popularity in esports gambling and influencers in marketing and e-commerce is going to make esports and professional style gaming the face of the industry–as long as teams and organizers can deliver. A strong foundation of investment and interest is already there, innovation has to follow.
In the UK, the thriving online gambling industry has had a years-long head start but other parts of the world are starting to blaze new trails into the market. The United States, in particular, has been hard at work restructuring legislation across the country since striking down the federal ban on single-game wagering. While there’s still some contention about the legality of online gambling across state borders (which could change this year as well since a Court of Appeals sided with the NH Lottery in January), individual states are organizing everything from mobile sports betting to online state lotteries. Keep an eye out for big brand names testing the waters and the introduction of new operators.
Blockchain and Cryptocurrency
Crypto seems to make waves every few months and that’s not about to change going into 2021. While the controversy over the environmental effects and the instability of cryptocurrency continues, more e-commerce institutions are looking at ways to include virtual payment options. Some casinos exclude crypto customers from receiving bonuses, but as cryptocurrency becomes more popular, policies like this may change. All-crypto casinos might become more commonplace, limiting complications with third-party payment processors. Blockchain games might also become more available, highlighting the strengths of the unique technology like the transparency of assets.
Forward with Purpose
Between 2020 and 2027, the global online gambling market is expected to grow by $67.7 billion, more than doubling in value. That’s no small feat, and while some point to coronavirus as an economic motivator for the online market, experts say that it’s probably not a phase. Pandemic shutdowns did see an increase in online gamblers, but new technologies like mobile gambling and esports are pulling new demographics into the pastime. If industry professionals can continue to captivate new players and stay ahead of the curve, they could maintain the momentum into the next decade.