Since the first online casino in 1997, advances in technology have been driving the igaming industry forward to unprecedented levels of consumer spend and business revenue. Collectively we spend billions annually betting on our favourite sports and casino games. For example, the UK market generates over £6 billion in gross gaming revenue each year from online betting whilst New York’s newly regulated mobile betting market generated $1.54 billion in bets in February alone.
How has the industry become so good at enticing us to spend on gambling products? It’s all driven by tech which has enabled gambling operators to create sophisticated products that provide a bespoke experience for each of us, with products tailored to our tastes, fast and secure banking options, and games that hook on to our innate enjoyment of risk and reward. In this article we show how the major tech advances of the last 30 years have created the environment within which this industry thrives.
First and most obviously of course is the impact of the internet on iGaming. Without the internet iGaming would simply not exist. The internet has changed how we live our lives beyond recognition in many ways, and it has enabled businesses to reach into our homes and sell to us without us even stepping foot outside. Whether you are Amazon, Uber, or Flutter Entertainment, you wouldn’t be here without the internet.
The first internet casino was built and launched in the mid 1990s by Microgaming, a company who remain a huge presence to this day. The first casinos were downloadable .exe files that could be installed onto a PC with games launching from the player’s desktop. Since then, things have clearly moved on – you don’t need to download to play, games come in live streaming format from real casinos, and the graphics and animations are more sophisticated than ever before.
But it all starts with that first casino in 1997. And that all starts with the ability to facilitate a bet through a virtual game in which transactions are recorded and player balance updated in real time over … the internet.
Gambling via your mobile phone is now more popular that playing on desktop computers. UK Gambling Commission stats say more than 50% of bets on their sites are made in this way.
Over a decade ago, iGaming developers had begun to realise the potential of gambling through a handset and offered mobile users the ability to access online gambling websites through a web browser.
Fast forward to the present day and developers are now creating applications for their innumerable gambling games, these apps are specifically designed to accommodate for a smaller screen to make it even more enjoyable for the ever-growing mobile phone market. The App Store and Google Play Store are now saturated with all sorts of weird and wonderful games for you to chance your luck at to win some serious money.
Live video streaming
While playing on a virtual blackjack table is easy and can be done from anywhere, it still doesn’t replicate that tangible feeling of seeing a dealer hand out the cards or spinning the wheel.
Luckily, advancements in technology have resolved this issue. Thanks to the introduction of livestream dealer broadcasts, we can now witness real and expert croupiers on our screens, giving the whole online gambling experience a more authentic feel. Meanwhile, developers like Evolution Gaming are creating bespoke versions of games like Blackjack and Roulette with side bets and in-game multipliers that add another level of jeopardy and the chance for greater payouts on every bet. Features like these are not possible in the offline casino world. They have been facilitated by tech.
iGaming companies are hoping to take this feature one step further through the use of virtual reality. While there are already online gambling games available on VR systems, there is the potential for real-time VR environments to be built that allow multiple users to access a virtual casino at the same time, which can be navigated and viewed as though they were at a bricks-and-mortar casino.
Dynamic Game Information
Another crucial enhancement to the gambling experience that can only come with online is dynamic betting information. This can be in-game analysis that helps gamblers pick out the latest in-game bets, or slot game payout rates that help gamblers find the best payout online casinos of the day, or even in-game stats on roulette that show the outcome of the last 100 spins.
This kind of real-time information adds another layer of intrigue for the gambler as they try to assess the likelihood of their bets coming good and it has helped elevate the online gambling experience above that found at high street bookmakers and casinos.
Another benefit that advances in live streaming has made to the iGaming industry is interactivity with other players.
The prevalence of devices such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops means that users can access an online casino from virtually anywhere, as long as they are connected to the internet.
This means that players can instantly jump into an online multiplayer poker tournament, negating any travel costs that you would make in a land-based casino.
Another advantage of multiplayer gambling is that it can be seamlessly integrated with social media. Users can join groups on platforms like Twitter and Facebook that are open to multiplayers tournaments and can implement their own ranking system with real-time leaderboards.
New payment methods – eWallets like Paypal, mobile phone payments like Apple Pay
Online casinos have opened the door to a whole array of new payment methods. Cash is still very much the king at land-based casinos because they are slow in adopting new payment methods. Online casinos on the other hand offer a big variety of cashier services such as eWallets like PayPal and Skrill, conventional mobile payments like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, but also unregulated payment methods such as cryptocurrencies.
This variety of payment methods offers users a greater degree of flexibility and control over how a user can gamble their money. A major advantage of eWallets and cryptocurrencies is that they allow transactions to be completely anonymous without the need to involve your banking provider or another third-party.
New payment methods such as these are also subject to regulation which enforces high standards of encryption and security. This means that customers are comfortable with the cashier services on offer and therefore more trusting of the online gambling experience overall.
The Future – VR Casinos and More Ways to Bet
That brings us up to date – the growth of online gambling has been driven by the internet, mobile technologies and digital payment services. And all this has been used by creative and intelligent gambling operators who are creating more ways to gamble online. But what does the future hold? Looking into our crystal ball we see Virtual Reality and the Metaverse as the context in which online gambling will evolve. The first VR casinos were invented in the last decade but due to low consumer uptake of VR headsets they did not take off. With the profile of the Metaverse raised by Facebooks’ morphing into Meta and Zuckerberg’s PR efforts, this will surely change, and it won’t be long before we see a high profile gambling operators devleop the first successful VR betting room. Meanwhile, the creative talents of studios like Evolution Gaming – the name behind innovative game formats like Lightning Roulette – will surely be inventing ever more creative ways for you to bet on online casino games and sports events.
Conclusion – iGaming is here to stay and will continue to harness tech to move forward in the next decade!