Online Casinos Have Their Best Year Yet, and It’s Only Getting Better
According to recent reports from market spectators, 2020 has been the most profitable yet in the history of online casinos. Generating around USD 66.7 billion this year alone, the current trajectory puts this industry on an upward path well into the 2020s. At its current Compound annual growth rate of 16.5%, the total market value in 2026 is expected to reach upwards of USD 160 billion.
In the online sphere, these games are typically separated into six sections. According to Gambling Compliance, in order of size, these are sports betting, slots, table and card games, miscellaneous, bingo, and poker. Each of these proportions is expected to hold steady in the coming decade, though the possible introduction of VR and AR experiences might eventually prove a confounding factor.
What Drives Online Casino Growth?
Fundamentally, the answer to this question relates to awareness, convenience, and the general improvement of software and hardware systems. These combined factors illustrate the path forward for online casinos but could also reveal complications in maximum expected expansion.
Awareness of online casinos was a major issue in the early days. Before the uniquity of the internet, underestimating what the online world could bring was common, leaving many potential players in the dark about what online casinos could bring. This low level of awareness meant what early online casinos didn't have the funding to expand, creating obstacles to growth.
The big changes to this challenge were born from a natural expansion of online awareness. As online connectivity went from niche to mainstream post-2000, a larger potential customer base was the natural result. As detailed by Our World in Data, in 2000, 6.74% of the population was connected to the internet. In 2010 and 2020, this proportion had risen to 28.73% and 45.79% respectively. Each new user represented greater potential and a more developed overall understanding of the existence of the online casino industry.
In terms of convenience, the effect of the internet on the gambling sector was a transformative one. Unlike with brick-and-mortar casinos, online businesses had no dress code, incurred no travelling time, or cost, and were always open 24 hours a day. The choice on this level was a revelation, regardless of where a player lived.
Over time, this convenience would expand onto mobile devices, themselves usurping the former dominance of the at-home PC. Today, games like the Mega Moolah slot on Royal Panda are playable from practically anywhere, and without any of the drawbacks that can appear on traditional PC-mobile ports. With online casino games being easily controllable on mobile devices, and with the additional advantages of low data costs, this was a coincidental near-perfect fit.
For hardware and software, the advantages to online casino games first came about in raising them to a more accurate standard. The first online casino games in 1996 were rough interpretations of existing games, often unappealing, clumsy, and frustratingly slow to play. With improvements to PC and mobile hardware and software, these limitations would be shattered.
From what used to be simple adaptions came games that offered huge variety with more in-depth systems and bonuses. This was especially well illustrated by slots, which adopt massive bonuses systems and jackpots not achievable through traditional means.
As a newer industry yet to hit a ceiling in many of these regards, it’s not yet known when online casinos might plateau. With awareness continuing to grow, convenience constantly improving, and hardware and software systems always getting better, we can only be confident that market growth will hold for years yet. While online casinos will continue to live alongside brick-and-mortar casinos, it does at least demonstrate a growing alternative. As for the shape of industry a decade from now, that's a much more complicated question.