People love talking about the impact technology has had on our lives – usually from a negative perspective. But while being both cynical and nostalgic are human nature, when we find some room to be fair and pragmatic, we can usually see that technology is a power for positive change.
Just look at the iGaming industry. 20 years it barely existed, today it generates $50 billion in annual revenue. That number is expected to approach $150 billion by the time 2030 comes around. Technology hasn’t just transformed the gambling industry, it has completely redefined it.
The world wide web
It might sound trite to say that the internet changed gambling – it changed every aspect of our lives. But for the gambling sector, it completely redrew the world map. The first online casino was born in the Caribbean in 1994, and since then, territories like Curacao and Malta have become key to the industry. In the early days, gambling sites were not as effectively regulated as they are today. In fact, it is fair to say that many 1990s operators may as well have worn chaps and spurs. It led to some false starts, culminating in Black Friday in 2011. But the industry emerged from that stronger and safer.
The mobile age
The internet provided the infrastructure for online gambling. But the smartphone provided universal access to it. 20 years ago, businesses had computers and so did well-off families in the developed world. Smartphones, along with the rise of 5G brought internet access to all. Today, the majority of internet access is from mobile handsets and the majority of gambling is via native apps. That’s as true in India or Nigeria as it is in the UK or US – click here to find the list of recommended casino apps for US players by way of example.
We mentioned nostalgia and cynicism earlier. Some casino players had a distrust of virtual roulette wheels operated by random number generators (RNGs), no matter how tightly they were regulated and audited. Others simply preferred the experience of a friendly croupier with a physical roulette wheel or deck of cards. Live streaming addressed both concerns at a single stroke. They bring the excitement of a real casino into your home and games are decided the traditional way, not using a RNG.
The idea of betting on a game of football when it was already in progress would have seemed insane 30 years ago. Today, in-play betting has brought new levels of excitement and new types of betting skills, to sports books. The odds shift with every goal, or touchdown or point – and with other ebbs and flows in the game. It is all about picking the right moment and reading the game better than the bookmaker.
And more evolving technology
We could also talk about crypto, which has bolstered security and made gambling more accessible in jurisdictions that have more restrictive regulations. Also, Virtual Reality is starting to bring a new level of realism to virtual gambling. Both these technologies are developing as we speak and will shape the industry in 2023, 2024 and beyond.