The global gambling industry has achieved huge growth throughout 2020. Online casinos and other digital gambling sites have driven this growth, attracting millions of new active users and seeing significant revenue increases.
In the UK, internet searches for online casinos peaked in April 2020, hitting an all-time high as millions searched for new ways to play. Around the world, it is estimated that more than half (51%) of all people gamble in one form or another, including casino games, sports wagers, lotteries, bingo and other forms of real money games and betting.
The Rise of Mobile
Mobile gambling is one of the fastest-expanding sectors, as more people turn to the convenience and affordability of gambling through their smartphones. Approximately 60% of all gamers worldwide now use mobile platforms and it is expected that half of the gambling sector’s gross income will be generated by mobile by 2023.
Many online casino operators are now investing in “mobile first” when it comes to new technology. This means software is optimized for mobile even before being optimized for desktop, taking advantage of the growing number of mobile players and delivering services tailored specifically for that demographic.
2020 Success Stories
Gross Gambling Yield for the global market has been increasing steadily year on year since 2015. In 2019, GGY reached an all-time high of $495 billion. There are several factors driving this growth and a few companies that are best poised to take advantage of the expanding market.
One of the biggest success stories for the gambling industry in 2020 is that of 888 Holdings. The public limited company announced first half results for 2020 which included pre-tax profits of $50.9 million. This is more than double the $22.2 million earned over the same period the previous year.
Average daily revenue grew by 56% year on year for 888 Holdings in 2020, with key drivers including more people choosing to play online and new customer acquisitions. 888 Holdings’ poker platform, 888 poker, had a particularly successful year, with revenue reaching its highest level in 3 years ($36.1 million).
Poker has been enjoying resurgence in popularity in recent years. New regulations in several countries including parts of the United States are making online poker more accessible, which is encouraging more people to participate. As more new players join tournaments, the chances for professional players to win large pots increase. New “social poker” websites have also begun to emerge, which navigate through loopholes in the law in areas where online real money poker is banned.
Social poker websites allow players to participate in sweepstakes for the chance of winning a cash prize rather than betting on each hand, which changes the nature of the game in terms of betting legislation. One such site reported a 131% increase in revenue in March 2020 with an increase of up to 50% in new players.
As with any rapidly growing industry, progress has momentum that cannot be stopped. As more players flock to test out online gambling sites, more operators spring up to meet growing demand. This results in fiercer competition, which pushes software developers to come up with more exciting ideas.
Advances in technology are widening the scope of what online casinos can offer, with tools that can make playing online almost the same as experiencing the atmosphere of one of the top Las Vegas casinos in person. Many online casinos are already offering technologies such as augmented and virtual reality, live dealer games and artificial intelligence. Many casinos are embracing payment technologies including cryptocurrency, which can enhance online security while allowing gamblers to remain anonymous.
Increased legalization of gambling in markets across the world has been one of the major trends driving the growth of the market during 2020. Gambling laws vary greatly around the world and there is little consistency even within one continent. However, as technology makes all forms of gambling more accessible and easier to regulate, more nations are introducing permissive gambling laws.
In the US, sports wagering has recently become legal in many states, with new legislation allowing each individual state to determine its own laws around the practice. Many countries have laws in place banning citizens from operating casinos or online gambling businesses but allow offshore operators to cater to their people. Countries without a regulatory framework for online gambling leave punters open to potential security risks, which is prompting many governments to rethink their stance on the legalization of real money online games.
As we enter 2021, the most confident prediction for the global gambling industry is increased digitalisation. Online and mobile sites already dominate the market and with increased penetration, it seems natural that this market share will continue to grow.
Sports wagering should see elevated growth as large areas of the US and other regions of the world relax legislation and allow betting on live sports. There are several large sporting events scheduled for 2021 which should help boost revenue, including the Olympic Games and the European Football Championships.
Retail betting suffered somewhat throughout 2020 but it is predicted that by 2022, land-based casinos and retail bookmakers should be recovering. Application of new and advancing digital technologies should maintain the momentum built up by the online gambling industry throughout 2020 well into the next year and beyond.