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The global online gambling industry is in a constant state of evolution and has been since it started gaining popularity in the late 1990s. In 1997 the number of online casinos grew to over 200. In that same year, the global annual revenue from online gambling reached USD$1 billion (€897 million).
In comparison, according to a report from Statista, in 2020, the global online gambling sector was valued at USD$66.7 billion (€59.3 billion). By next year (2023), it is predicted to reach USD$92.9 billion (€82.6 billion). Needless to say, the iGaming industry is a money-making machine and staying on top of the latest technological trends is what powers its popularity.
For 2022, several trends have been predicted. Online casinos in the UK and Europe will need to stay on top of these developments if they want to remain competitive. Some of these trends include:
Upgraded Security and Safer Gambling Practices
It’s no secret that Brits seek out the most trusted UK casinos to enjoy their favourite slots, table games and live dealer games. In this day and age, no company can be too careful when it comes to cybersecurity or providing players with a safe, reliable and responsible gambling environment.
Over the next year, maintaining legal compliance will continue to grow in importance. This includes stringent KYC (Know Your Customer) processes to prevent fraud, other criminal activity, and to protect minors. Responsible gambling efforts (self-exclusion, setting limits, etc.) will also play an important role. Other notable 2022 security trends include two-factor authentication, advanced login (e.g. facial recognition), and faster withdrawal times.
Decentralised gambling continues to increase within the industry, with many online platforms choosing to accept cryptocurrency as part of their payment services. Even some of the most known platforms that offer iGaming software solutions, like SkillOnNet and SoftSwiss, offer Bitcoin and other crypto options to their online casino business partners.
Though traditional FIAT payments will remain the primary option at most of the UK’s and Europe’s biggest gambling sites in 2022, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and many others will start to dominate the industry, due to the security, anonymity and fast deposit/withdrawal speed they offer players. Not to mention, as NFTs and the Metaverse become more prominent, the demand for blockchain casinos will only grow.
VR and AR Gaming
Whilst several VR casinos currently exist, as the Metaverse evolves and immersive experiences become more desired and mainstream, there will be further push for VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality) and MR (mixed reality). Currently, online casinos that do offer VR experiences include not only games, but also more advanced technology like 3D-avatars, gesture imitation, and live interactions. As one might imagine, the digital poker experience could be entirely revolutionised by VR as it will more closely resemble the real thing.
That said, though these technologies are slowly gaining ground, it will still be a few more years before VR and AR tech in online casinos truly takes off. This is largely in part due to the cost of the headsets and other gear required for the experience.
Upgraded Gaming Experience
Younger generations are not interested in traditional slots and casino games. As such, software providers will need to rise to the challenge to create more interactive video game-style entertainment that combines gambling with social and with skill. Likewise, more online casinos will need to integrate incentivised gamification features to keep players interested and immersed in the experience. This may include challenges, tournaments, collecting points or the casino’s special currency, etc.
In addition to entertainment, as time goes on, players will demand an iGaming experience that is fast, smooth and seamless. This means faster registration or no registration process, instant and/or same day withdrawals, easy navigation and a responsive UI no matter the device.
Mobile and Wearable Tech
The latest in mobile gambling trends will be for online casinos to go above and beyond the basic requirements of simply having an app. Operators need to make it as easy as possible for new users to register an account, and include a module tech stack with their app to enable or disable features as is needed. Additionally, optimising discoverability will be important to provide users with quick access to relevant games.
Aside from smartphones, gambling on wearables, like smartwatches, will also grow in popularity. Creating an ideal experience for this device presents plenty of challenges due to the small and different shaped screen sizes as well as there being so many proprietary operating systems. However, game providers, like Playtech, have already seen the potential for the wearable gambling market and have started designing slots apps for Apple Watches.
The Rise of Online Casinos
Last but not least, beyond all the growing trends listed above, one thing is for certain, 2022 will see more casinos thrive on the internet compared to their land-based brothers. The future of gambling is definitely online.