If industry statistics are anything to go by, the future of online gambling in the UK is a rosy one. As remote gambling providers invest in superior User Experience (UX) and delve into the realm of Virtual Reality (VR) and gamification, the traditional brick-and-mortar betting shop will struggle to compete with online competitors.
Online casinos are set to become increasingly sophisticated and immersive, offering users an experience that rivals the traditional casino. The most recent industry statistics from the Gambling Commission indicate that the remote betting, bingo and casino sector enjoyed a market share of 34%, and a massive Gross Gambling Yield of £4.7 billion in the period April 2016 – March 2017 – and these numbers are set to grow substantially as mobile-savvy consumers look for quick wins and engaging experiences on the go.
Here’s a look at some of the online casino industry trends shaping online casinos in the near future:
An increase in women who wager
Traditionally a pastime associated with the male population, females are taking to online gambling in droves. Thanks to a surge in engaging social media marketing on behalf of online casinos, coupled with broader societal trends like the ubiquity of the smartphone, women are now just as likely to enjoy a flutter as men. Recent statistics from the UK Gambling Commission indicate that 44% of women gamble or have gambled, compared to 53% of men. In addition, 30% of women have gambled in the past month. As to the types of games preferred by the fairer sex, slot games, like Starburst and Rainbow Riches Pick ‘n Mix ,come out tops, followed by bingo, while live dealer games are the least popular.
Despite the increase in female gamblers (and with it the dismantling of the stereotype that gambling is strictly ‘for the boys’), online casinos have yet to wake up to the fact that gendered offerings come off as patronising, with many online casinos punting pastel-coloured, cutesy offerings in the hope of capitalising on the rise of female gamblers. As gender equality cements itself firmly in the zeitgeist, it’s likely that online casinos will wake up to the fact that the main drawcard, for both sexes, is seamless and engaging UX. Another stereotype that’s quickly being rendered obsolete is the thinking that female gambling is the sole domain of the blue-rinsed, octogenarian pack. Today’s typical female player is young, active on social media and technically savvy. As for the psychological drivers behind gambling preferences, a Swedish study indicates that women tend to prefer luck-based games, such as slots, lotteries and bingo, while men tend to prefer games requiring strategy and skill. Whether this is indicative of inherent gender difference on a global scale, or merely a matter of cultural difference, is irrelevant; the takeaway here is that a rise in female gamblers is by and large one of the most notable online casino industry trends.
Increased gamification and the use of content as a value-add
Thanks to the rapid advancement of online casino technology, users can now access online casinos in the comfort of their home, or on their commute or lunch break. As users play on the go and around the clock via their mobiles in particular, their desire for engaging experiences continues to grow. Online casinos are meeting this demand via increased gamification of online gambling and betting games. Users can expect to see offerings that include avatars, narrative storytelling, unlockable content, leaderboards and more, says Anglotopia.net.
Continuing the online casino industry trend of diversifying and enriching offerings, users can expect to see more and more content from movies and TV shows interwoven into their playing experience. As content becomes one of the main channels used by all brands to connect with their audiences, online casinos will follow the lead and offer more in-game content (as both incentives and prizes).
Online casinos will increasingly cater to players who favour cryptocurrencies
The popularity of cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, continues to grow. In a bid to keep up with market demands, online casinos that accept payments via Bitcoin are popping up. The main reason players are eschewing credit and debit cards in favour of cryptocurrencies is that they offer minimal fees and speedy transactions, but the yet-to-be-regulated currency means that the UK market will have to overcome several legislative hurdles before British Bitcoin casinos become commonplace.
Compared to a plethora of cryptocurrency casinos in the US, there are currently only a handful of online casinos that accept Bitcoin as a form of payment in the UK. While this is set to change, it will be a slow and convoluted process. Industry watchdogs and the Government still need to determine how to regulate Bitcoin and the retail and entertainment outfits that accept the cryptocurrency in order to mitigate against money laundering and protect consumers from fraud. As this online casino technology trend permeates the industry, players can expect to see more of their favourite sites adding Bitcoin as a form of payment.
Online gambling experiences will become more and more immersive, thanks to virtual reality casinos
The growing adoption of virtual reality in multiple industries has now penetrated the online casino space. VR casinos offer a gambling experience that rivals that of traditional ones, with the added bonus of players being able to play in the comfort of their own homes. As technology continues to evolve, it’s safe to say that the future of online gambling will revolve around VR.
Online casinos offering virtual reality games are incentivising longtime fans of brick-and-mortar casinos by offering sizeable deposit bonuses. Whether they succeed in luring these players away from traditional establishments is yet to be seen. It’s clear, however, that younger players who’ve grown up with smartphones in hand are the largest demographic to fully embrace the immersive technology. While still in their infancy, VR casinos are set to become one of the most exciting online gambling industry trends in recent years. Casino Guide reports that SlotsMillion is the only licensed VR casino in the UK at present, although it’s only a matter of time before a slew of competitors hoping to cash in on an exciting new online gambling trend follow suit.
Charitable gambling websites represent a new form of the online casino.
An innovative marriage of philanthropy and entertainment, socially responsible gaming operator Health Games is changing public perceptions around gambling, one spin at a time. Players can enjoy favourites like slots, slingo, and partake in traditional favourites via a live casino. A subsidiary of the Health Lottery, and licensed by the UK Gambling Commission, Health Games is the only UK-based online gaming site that directly benefits health-related charities and causes across Britain.