What’s the one defining factor that all of today’s digital and technology industries have in common?
Answer: They’re all driven by innovation.
Innovation has spurred on and ensured the growth of everything from the digital devices we use on a daily basis through to AI and robotics, space exploration, and 3D Printing. It has also played a defining role in the creation and longevity of the modern gaming industry, particularly the iGaming sector.
While the idea of real money remote gaming may not seem as ground-breaking as say, being able to print your own furniture or explore outer space, the fact remains that iGaming itself is a perfect example of innovation. It harnesses the power and potential of digital technologies to provide the thrill and excitement of casino gaming at home or on the go in an immersive format.
Thanks to ongoing innovation since the Millennium, iGaming has risen to become one of the most popular and lucrative global gaming market segments, currently on track to generate as much as $127.3 billion in estimated revenues by 2027.
In this article, we’ll chart the key moments of innovation and development in the industry over the past three decades, as well as take a look at the advances that are just around the corner for real money gaming.
A Timeline of Innovation
iGaming is an umbrella term assigned to the sector of the gaming industry that involves real money wagering online. In 2021, this encompasses casino gaming, poker gaming, sports betting, and specific types of online video gaming.
Whilst today’s iGaming market is vast and comparable to the PC and console gaming market in terms of size and value, this hasn’t always been the case.
The first online casino platform was established in 1994, however, it would be almost a decade before online casino gaming was taken to the next level. Instead, in the intervening years, online poker began to flourish, thanks in no small part to the online beginnings of WSOP champion, Chris Moneymaker.
Just a few years into the new century, in 2003, another iGaming first happened when live casinos made their online debuts. They were quickly followed by mobile casinos and the first progressive jackpot online slot.
For several years, iGaming providers experienced rapid growth as global consumers fell under the sway of online gaming. Mobile gaming possibilities became a reality as handsets become more advanced and data connections became more widespread; while gaming brands entered the realm of corporate sponsorship and garnered even more exposure.
The years 2012 to 2018 would be critical to iGaming’s growth. Innovation was a given in 2012 when providers made the switch to HTML5, and 2013 saw operators make their first explorations in Virtual Reality technology.
Another milestone was achieved that same year by the burgeoning iGaming industry with the licensing of the first US online casino. The respected 888 casino, which had been operating throughout Europe since 1997, officially launched in key American states, opening up a wide range of high-quality casino gaming options for residents, including a wealth of online slots games, table games, and video poker.
2015 saw the advent of the first-ever casino game for the smartwatch, then in 2018, iGaming hit the mainstream in the US thanks to the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling against the PASPA 1992 Act, which had previously prohibited widespread betting and wagering online.
During the years since its expansion into the US, the global iGaming industry has consistently experienced record growth year on year, shooting from $44 billion in 2014 to $77.42 billion at the end of 2020 (Brandessence Market Research).
Now synonymous with digital innovation, the iGaming segment offers one of the broadest selections of gaming experiences for consumers, whether that’s competing in online gaming tournaments, playing in rich and immersive environments with VR, or playing casino games on the go, there’s a vertical that appeals to global majorities.
But being driven by innovation, as it is, what future developments and enhancements could we see being made in iGaming that would ensure its continued growth to 2030 and beyond?
Firstly, enhanced technology is likely to be a primary area of focus for iGaming brands throughout 2021 and the remainder of the decade. In an ever-changing landscape, where the next opportunity to reinvent the online casino gaming experience is a mere discovery away, increasing the resources that are available for the development of technologies like VR, AR, and IoT integration will give way to new trends.
It’s also increasingly likely that more and more operators will integrate Artificial Intelligence into their offerings. When integrated well, AI has the potential to completely transform the customer experience, providing a bespoke gaming experience based on their preferences, as well as game data analysis and targeted recommendations.
Implementing AI into gaming platforms will also offer a host of benefits to operators, not least of which include enhanced security, predictive monitoring, and strategic automation – all of which should be key areas for those gaming brands aiming to establish themselves as market leaders.
The sheer popularity of iGaming over the past year has seen it transition from being just another segment of the gaming industry to a stand-alone form of at-home entertainment that rivals traditional console and PC gaming. As the sector becomes more and more embedded in the entertainment industry, iGaming brands and operators will in turn need to diversify their offerings with new tools, products, and experiences in order to differentiate themselves in an increasingly saturated marketplace.