Online gambling encompasses games of chance, sports betting, and skill contests for money over the World Wide Web. This industry got birthed in the mid-1990s when Antigua and Barbuda passed the Free Trade and Processing Act, which led to this Caribbean nation becoming the debuting country to license internet gambling operators. Isle of Man’s Microgaming, now a sector behemoth, also got up and running that year, establishing itself as the world’s first company to develop online casino games.
Today, Pune-based Fortune Business Insights projects that the online gambling software market will reach annual revenues of $158 billion by 2028, exhibiting a yearly compound gross rate of 11.4%.
Undoubtedly, the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically accelerated the growth of this sector, with lockdowns and stay-at-home measures affecting foot traffic at land-based locales. In the UK, remote betting provided a 25% growth in tax revenues last year. Similarly, in Australia, AlphaBeta, an economics consultancy firm, claimed that online betting increased a whopping 67% in the land down under in April 2020. All this contributed to the expansion of the gambling software market, where some existing companies’ operations swelled, and new brands sprung up seemingly out of nowhere.
Main Industry Players
Multiple online gambling juggernauts exist. Most of these betting entities have been around for close to over two decades. For example, Entain plc, founded as GVC Holdings in Luxembourg, is a vast company that owns multiple gambling sites like PartyPoker, Bwin, Sportingbet, Ladbrokes, Coral, and others, active since 2004. Recently, it has made waves due to its partnership with MGM Resorts International. Entain plc pulls in yearly revenues of slightly above $4 billion. Flutter Entertainment, formerly Paddy Power Betfair, is another UK company with an even higher yearly intake of $5.8 billion that principally stays on the sports betting and poker side of things.
London’s William Hill is one of the most recognizable brands in all of sports betting. In April 2021, it got acquired by Caesars Entertainment, which plans to rebrand William Hills US operations under the Caesars name and use the company’s existing infrastructure to attempt to dominate the growing US sports wagering market.
888 Holdings, whose headquarters are in Gibraltar got founded in 1997. They dabble in pretty much all sector segments, including running two premium bingo sites. It was among the first international entities to break through into the US market and the initial one to return to it following the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. 888’s has an employee base of 1,250 people on staff and rakes in annual revenues of $850 million.
Other notable players include StarsGroup.com, Kindred Group plc, Betsson AB, Bet365, LeoVegas AB, and BetAmerica. These are all operators of a wide range of diverse gambling platforms that operate under the same umbrella. When it comes to software developers of casino and lottery-style online products, Evolution Gaming is the undisputed king. The elite supplier of live dealer table games went public in 2015, and its stock prices have continuously grown. In September of 2020, it bought out one of its main competitors, Sweden’s NetEnt, for $2.1 billion, and six months later, it purchased Australia’s Big Time Gaming for $534 million.
Unequivocally, Europe is the most dominant continent when it comes to online gambling. In 2020, it was responsible for almost half ($30.9 billion) of this industry’s overall revenues. That is so because Europe has the most regulated markets, with the UK and the Scandinavian region being at the forefront of internet betting laws. Conversely, North America is still slowly expanding its online gambling legislation. In Asia and Africa, such laws are almost non-existent.
Trends & Expected Innovations
Currently, one of the chief technologies that contribute to the rise of online gambling is blockchain payments. Cryptocurrencies are now all the rage, with the non-fungible token boom also engulfing this sector. Due to the unregulated nature of digital coin transfers, they are alluring for both gamblers and operators. Moreover, metaverses such as the popular Decentraland now lease plots of virtual land to parties interested in running Ethereum-powered casinos in their open worlds that facilitate token-based gambling. The level of convenience supplied by e-wallet transfers also affects the appeal of online gambling, and these methods remove many of the hassles associated with using traditional debit/credit cards, such as slow transaction speeds.
There is also a rising awareness regarding the impact on people’s mental health that online gambling platforms may have. Therefore, many overseers now mandate that their licensees implement self-exclusion programs and incorporate deposit/loss limits.
In 2016, attempts got made to include VR games at online casinos, an idea that failed to materialize entirely. In 2021, this gaming genre is announcing a renaissance, as VR slots from NetEnt and Playtech should hit some platforms this year.
About the Author
Shelly Schiff has been working in the gambling industry since 2009, mainly on the digital side of things, employed by OnlineUnitedStatesCasinos.com. However, over her eleven-year career, Shelly has provided content for many other top interactive gaming websites. She knows all there is to know about slots and has in-depth knowledge of the most popular table games. Her golden retriever Garry occupies most of her leisure time. Though, when she can, she loves reading Jim Thompson-like crime novels.