Online casinos have seen massive growth over the past decade. Although there was an initial clampdown on sites for the US market, by 2013 various states began to legalize online casinos and gambling websites, with New Jersey being the first. Each state governs its own laws around gambling, and some form of gambling is permitted in every state except Utah and Hawaii. While New Jersey leads the market, another 13 states have made it legal for online gambling in state since then. The explosion in its popularity since has led to its value topping 60 billion US dollars this year, and that is anticipated to reach over 90 billion dollars by 2023.
So, what is driving this huge boom in the online casino market? In this fast-paced market where new sites compete daily, developing new features has been key to staying ahead of the game. People have been moving away from brick-and-mortar casinos because it has become so comfortable to play online casino games from the comfort of their sofa, or in the case of Draftkings Casino even on their mobile while on the move, and they can now even enjoy a social experience with the evolution of live casino games.
Over the course of the last 18 months or so, some hot trends have emerged, showing that the overall outlook for the industry will continue to rise, with new players, new games and new sites being added every day to keep fuelling the appetite for this exciting hobby
Mobile gaming is at an all-time high, and recent developments in mobile software have increased the amount of people who can access online casino apps on their phone. Also improved software has meant that smartphone users are now more likely to play casino games, as they can easily set wagers and gain more excitement by engaging with other players across the world. Online casino operators have jumped on this and have started investing in mobile app technology to take advantage of this growing global population, with 213 million mobile gamers in the U.S. alone.
Gamification, which is adding elements that aren’t usually part of the game format, is an element that has been co-opted from the video gaming industry to the online casino. This is improving overall user engagement as the players feel more involved, and there’s more to play for – in the form of tournaments, unlocking levels through mini-games or gaining coins or gems to access new spheres.
Another feature that has definitely boosted online casino gaming is the introduction of live dealers. Previously, random generators were used as dealers, which was something many players didn’t like, so they kept visiting offline gambling establishments to play with a live dealer. However, now many of the big sites have introduced live dealer games for traditional games including poker, blackjack and roulette, which has seen the number of new users of online casinos jump dramatically. The human interaction element means that players find the experience more authentic and trustworthy, which has encouraged them to sign up and play more online.
A fascinating feature that has arisen out of technological developments is the use of augmented and virtual reality in online casinos. Both have been used in gaming for some time, so the crossover to casino games makes sense. With the use of a headset, players can meet with their friends online and engage in a thoroughly immersive experience while playing a game. Soon, it will be possible for players to actually see one another during a game, although we’re not quite there yet. With augmented reality, images are overlaid, so it will possible to choose wherever you’d like to play. Imagine being able to virtually sit in some of the most famous casinos in the world, from Las Vegas or Macau, while playing from the comfort of your bedroom or study? Alternatively, people will soon be able choose locations such as the bar or beach, which wouldn’t normally lend themselves to a game of poker or blackjack. This truly brings players into a new realm and is easily the most talked about development of recent times.
Promotions and bonuses have been a feature of online betting platforms for some time. However, this is where the online casino has a significant edge over traditional land-based casinos. Established online casinos offer up to a 100% bonus on your deposit, and have other attractive offers such as Refer-A-Friend, where you can gain commission on your friend’s deposits. Their RTP (Return to Player) averages are also markedly higher than any bricks and mortar casino, with returns as high as 99% on certain games. Progressive jackpots are also a draw, as there can be many more players on a game online than there would be in a normal casino. Given the low entry fees, this can be very lucrative to even newcomers who have recently signed up to an online casino.
These extra new features have not just encouraged players who preferred the real-life experience of a casino, but those who have never dipped their toe into gambling previously. State regulations, new frontiers in technology, plus those who like the ease of playing a game on their smartphone have meant that the future looks exceptionally bright for both established online casinos and those who have recently entered the market, as long as they can keep up.