With technology changing and evolving so rapidly, there’s always a new market — and buzz words to go along with it — that gets the community around the world talking. Recently, that market has been the iGaming industry.
If you’ve not heard of it before, iGaming is an umbrella term that expands over all forms of online gambling. Mostly associated with online casino games and digital poker rooms, iGaming also covers esports betting, online slots games, online sports betting, cryptocurrencies, fantasy sports and binary trading.
Comprised of many different businesses, from game designers to platform providers and affiliates, it’s one of the most exciting and quickly growing industries out there. Which means that companies, brands, entrepreneurs and career seekers all want to get involved.
The history of iGaming
iGaming, at its core, is the result of the digital realm’s influence on casinos and gaming, more generally. The history of iGaming is rooted in a history of gambling and betting, which of course goes back for centuries.
It seems that as long as humans have enjoyed playing games, they’ve also found a source of entertainment in betting and gambling. The internet boom in the 90s though, brought gambling for the first time, in many places, online. Many people don’t know that the very first online gambling venue that was open to the public was the ticketing for the Lichtenstein International Lottery back in 1994.
From there, online casino industry grew in popularity; in 1996 there were only 5 gambling websites around the world. By 1997 there were 200, and in 1998 online gambling revenues had exceeded $830 million.
It’s not stopped since; and despite numerous attempts at restricting the online gambling market around the world by certain country’s governments, by 2016 the online gambling market reached $45.86 billion in revenue.
So where is iGaming based?
Like many digital industries these days, iGaming truly has an international market. People from all around the world access online casinos and make sports bets through the internet every single day, at all hours of the day.
Some of the biggest iGaming countries are based across Europe including Spain, Sweden, the UK, Estonia and Malta — as well as increasingly across the continent of Asia. With the global online gambling market projected to be valued at 59.79USD by the end of 2020 it seems that almost every corner of the world will want to get in on this incredible venture. That being said, Europe still dominates the iGaming industry.
The world leader in digital entertainment, the EU market is one of the most competitive for online gambling. In 2019 the EU had 49.2% share of the global online gambling market, which is forecast to remain stable over the next several years.
With sports betting now legalised in several US states (and more predicted to follow suit), many European companies have developed their foothold in the US market, therefore increasing their presence and influence in the area. The EU online gambling market is continuing to grow at about 10% every year — and experts don’t see it stopping any time soon.
Is iGaming a threat to land based casinos?
Gaming is certainly taking a large hold of the market. In Great Britain, the total gross gambling yield (GGY) in 2019 was £14.5bn — of which £5.6bn (39%) was remote. And with smartphone and tablet ownership rising rapidly, it seems that more people than ever are playing their games online. It’s easy to see why.
The convenience of iGaming makes it incredibly attractive to players — who can access their favourite games any time of day or night, from the comfort of their home (or while on a commute, on a break at work — the possibilities are endless). Online gaming also offers some incredibly unique experiences as technology improves, including video gaming and new offerings in terms of Virtual and Augmented Reality. With so many great gaming opportunities it makes sense that people are so attracted to playing their games online.
This however, doesn’t necessarily mean the end of land based casinos. Online gaming cannot fully replicate the atmosphere of a casino — as well as all the extra entertainment and hospitality options on offer that many casinos use to entice players.
Many people are still drawn to land based casinos because of the socialising element, which, while there are still chat and video options for mobile casino games, some individuals prefer to experience in a non-virtual capacity.
There’s also the attraction of the famous casino destinations — places like Macau, Las Vegas and Atlantic City, which make the ‘casino’ experience much more than about the games itself. It’s likely that the threat of iGaming, while real, will only push land-based casinos to offer a different experience than that of their mobile counterparts — which may mean a more entertaining offering overall.
The future of iGaming
No one can predict exactly what the future of iGaming will entail. But it’s likely that the industry is not only here to stay, but will grow exponentially over the next few years. You’ll likely to see improvements — and competition — when it comes to iGaming experiences as different brands and companies work hard to attract customers and separate themselves from what is already becoming an incredibly saturated market around the world.
Especially as more countries loosen their laws when it comes to online casinos. It’s exciting to look ahead and imagine what iGaming could possibly look like in the years to come.