The online gambling industry is a financial juggernaut that year after year grows relentlessly and engulfs more and more land-based casino market share. In 2020, global online gambling revenues were estimated at $465.76 billion.
By the end of 2021, that figure is expected to rise more than 10% to $516.03 billion, with analysts attributing much of the growth to loosening laws and attitudes in the West. Canada is a Western country where online gambling and online casinos have grown in popularity as attitudes towards gambling have become more positive, contributing to the overall growth of gambling. popular casinos in Canada ranges from online slot machines online table games like poker and blackjack. In this article however, we are not interested in the intricacies of individual game data and popularity.
Rather, we are interested in the role cell phones have played in transforming online gaming from a niche pastime into a mainstream activity that could be worth a trillion dollars over the next 10 years.
Read on to find out how this 4.7 x 5.5 inch device in your back pocket revolutionized the gaming industry.
The beginnings of online gambling
In 1994, Microgaming launched the world’s very first online casino, which by today’s standards could generously be called “primitive”. In addition to the website’s clunky feel, it was only accessible to those privileged enough to have a PC at home.
The average cost in 1994 was around $1,400, which in today’s money would be $2,500, so it would be safe to say that online gambling, when it was first created , was an activity reserved for wealthy people.
In addition to the cost of owning a PC, there was the hurdle of payouts and withdrawing winnings. Early last year, lawmakers in Kenya made world news when they approved legislation allowing mobile game payments.
In 1994, in the United States and other Western countries, online gamblers had to disconnect their PC from the phone line before calling the company to make deposits into their online account over the phone.
Winnings were most often paid out in the form of checks, which left players waiting for over a month to enjoy the big wins they had made at the online roulette table.
The game started on PC and consoles.
It’s not until 20 years from now that online gaming will truly transform into a product that we might recognize today. Around 2004 – 2005, there was a real boom in the number of online gambling companies operating across the globe.
The majority of these sites were accessible from PCs or laptops, and although they are still considered clunky in today’s eyes, they were quite groundbreaking at the time.
Year after year, small changes were made to online gambling sites to make them more appealing to customers, but overall online gambling was still a niche market until…
2007 – The advent of the Smartphone
In 2007, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced to a specially gathered crowd that his company would release an iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator. The revolutionary thing was that all of these things would be included in one device.
The world’s first real smart phone was born, and within a few years it would revolutionize the way we all live our lives. When it comes to gambling, the online sector was relatively late in reacting to the creation of the smartphone.
While other industries struggled to invest in apps and the people who could develop and run them, game companies still focused on PC and laptop compatibility.
It wasn’t until around 2013 that major gambling companies started investing in purpose-built mobile apps. Until then, the majority of providers were content to allow their players to play on clunky mobile-optimized web pages that gave users a raw deal.
Back in 2007, global gambling companies had no idea how crucial the unveiling of the first iPhone would be to their future business models.
2013 – Present – Mobile Optimization
Over the past 8 years, a lot has changed in the online gambling market, namely the recognition by some of the biggest companies in the industry of the power and growth potential of mobile.
While in early 2013 it was rare to find an online gaming company with a decent, working app, now it’s impossible to find one without a good app. Any company worth its salt has spent time and money to create an app that lives up to its gamers’ expectations.
Which is wise given that 44% of all bets placed in the UK are made on a mobile device, far outpacing PC and laptop betting and in-person betting. As an established online gambling territory, the UK is the perfect barometer of where the industry is headed.
In Canada, where the industry is not far behind its British counterpart, similar numbers show the popularity of mobile casino betting. South of the border and towards the United States, the numbers are slightly different.
Indeed, despite being considered the spiritual home of gambling, most US states prohibit online casino gambling. At some point over the next few years, that’s set to change, leading many US-based companies to preemptively invest in mobile technology.
What role will mobile gaming play in the future?
It’s no exaggeration to suggest that without the invention of smartphones, the online gambling industry would be nothing compared to what it is today. The USP of online gaming is that it can be enjoyed anywhere and anytime, which would not have been possible without the smartphone.
In the years to come, the smartphone will continue to be an integral part of online gambling, but that does not mean that it will remain a mainstay forever. New inventions and innovations such as VR and AR technology could help provide the industry with a new USP.
A device that none of us have heard of at the time of writing this article could have an even greater impact on the online gambling industry than the smartphone. After all, the success of the smartphone has shown us that technology is one of the most important facets of growth…