Current and future trends in the online casino industry

17 May 2021
Live casinos could account for more than half of gambling traffic in the next two years.

Live casinos could account for more than half of gambling traffic in the next two years. (photo by Flickr)

If you’re considering setting up an online gaming company, or you have one and want to make sure you are ahead of your competition, you might be wondering how to do it. One of the main factors of your success is the games that you offer. We are operating in a time when technology is moving faster than ever. Combined with an influx of younger players, operators need to move quickly to ensure they provide what their target audience wants.
Here are some of the current and future trends in the online casino sector.
Live casino games
Some analysts and stakeholders have predicted that live casinos could account for more than half of gambling traffic in the next two years. This is driven by a younger demographic of online gamblers and a demand for more interactive gambling experiences. The global pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have not only seen land-based casinos close their doors, but it has limited all forms of socializing. As a result, platforms like zoom and other video communication tools have seen big users increase.
In the absence of the ability to meet face-to-face, people are looking to socialize in the digital realm. Therefore, the desire to interact with other players, dealers, and to feel like they are playing “in real life” is reflected in the popularity of live casinos. Even as vaccine rollouts continue and the world goes back to some semblance of normality, this trend will likely continue. In terms of convenience, being able to engage in live casino games from a PC or mobile is something that has long-term appeal for many gamblers.
The integration of virtual reality and augmented reality in online casinos and gambling games is a megatrend for the next year. The first VR casino was launched back in 2015 and allowed gamblers to explore a 3D world and interact with other gamblers in real-time. Since then, the sector has grown substantially. The lower costs and increasing technological sophistication of VR equipment like headsets are supporting this growth. Those visiting VR gambling sites can be immersed completely in the new environment and explore it as and how they choose.
In terms of AR, it holds slightly more appeal as it doesn’t require the use of a headset or other equipment. AR doesn’t block out the real world or transport the gamblers into a new one. Rather it works by overlaying various graphics, animations, and features over the “real world.” Typically, the user needs a camera, headset, or an app to enjoy this kind of technology. As PokemonGo proved, AR games can be enjoyed with just a smartphone, appealing to gamblers.
Crypto payments and micropayments
Cryptocurrency is enjoying a period of confidence and transition to mainstream adoption. Unsurprisingly, it has also found a home in online gambling. Many players want to benefit from the convenience and security that crypto gambling offers.
Additionally, crypt coins can be broken down into smaller micropayments, allowing players to place smaller wagers and take advantage of in-game purchases.
Cryptocurrency could change how some games are structured, providing increased flexibility and control for players. Another bonus is that transaction times and fees are typically much less than with fiat currency.
Themed games
As a younger demographic of gamers and gamblers become active, the operator's focus needs to change to support this. One way of effectively maintaining the interest of the 21 to 35-year-old demographic is through themed games. While games such as pirates, Halloween, or jungles tend to be more popular with older generations, they don’t do much for millennials and GenXers.
Some software providers have taken the initiative to team up with movie studios and similar stakeholders to provide more modern themed games. Basing slots and table games on current trends, cultural fashions, and movie blockbusters is a surefire way to stay current and ensure you have your finger on the pulse of what your audience wants.
Mobile-friendly games
Most of the online gambling traffic is now coming from mobile phones. This trend is set to continue in the same vein going forward. If you are not currently offering mobile-optimized games for clients, or your website is slow and sluggish on mobile, you need to be proactive. Demand for on-the-go gambling will continue to rise, as will interest in high-quality and fast-paced casino games for mobile.
Providers will be expected to integrate emerging technologies like AI, VR, AR, and blockchain into their offerings, as well as making them mobile-friendly. There is increased interest in gambling apps as well. Rather than just optimizing your mobile site, more gamblers are keen to download an app where they can access a portfolio of different offerings all in one place.
Alternative betting
Over the last couple of years, there has been a spike in interest in alternatives to sports betting. This was particularly noticeable after the pandemic started as most conventional sports games were cancelled or postponed. Instead, traffic to eSports betting sites increased along with interest in fantasy sports betting. Both markets are now worth billions and are growing at a double-figured CAGR.
The online gambling market is changing and evolving at a high rate.

The online gambling market is changing and evolving at a high rate. (photo by Flickr)

There are plenty of opportunities in opening stand-alone eSports or fantasy sports betting sites. You may also incorporate these options into an existing platform. While conventional sports are largely operating as usual again, the interest in these new forms of betting has been solidified and is here to stay.
The online gambling market is changing and evolving at a high rate. Player demands are centered around technology, convenience, security, and flexibility. Operators, whether they are seasoned professionals or startups, need to consider the changing needs of their target demographics and be ready to service them.

Ron Mendelson

Ron Mendelson is the Director of Costa-Rica based business and financial consultancy firm, Fast Offshore. With over two decades of experience in corporate services, iGaming, international business, finance, licensing and legal matters, he advises a number of international clients on their business needs in the Americas, Europe, and beyond.