Now that some of the major winter gaming conferences are over, and both leaders and newbies of the industry made their presentations for the year 2019, it is time for us to roll out a list of top trends for the online gambling industry.
On a daily basis our portal adds more than ten new games, and a slightly smaller amount of software developers and recommended online operators to the KTC database. We also keep a hand on a pulse of market evolution thanks to in-depth research provided to us by H2GC. So, based on all this data, here’s what we believe will be the hot topics for the following several months.
Do you remember those days when most online operators worked off installed software? Who would’ve thought then, that only some ten years later not only this, but even instant wagering from desktops would be considered outdated?
By the end of March 2019, H2GC reports, the gross win across the European gambling market reached some USD 27 billion. Out of this sum, almost USD 13 billion was won on mobile phones. This means that 41% of clients logged into their portable devices to place a bet or to give a slot a spin. By the year 2023, researchers predict, this number will reach 53%.
To compare mobile gambling gross wins across the globe, the biggest fans of placing stakes while on the go are Europeans. Residents of this continent won over USD 12 billion by March of 2019. Following them are players from Asia and Middle east, who generated USD 6, 906 billion of gross wins, and gamers from North America, who scored USD 2, 313 billion.
By the end of March 2019, H2GC reports, the gross win across the European gambling market reached some USD 27 billion. Out of this sum, almost USD 13 billion was won on mobile phones.
By all means, the gambling industry took a giant step out of the shadow and into the regulated area by the end of 2018. It was all off to a rough start at first, with total bans across the biggest countries at the end of the XX century. According to the latest tendencies, however, officials have come to a conclusion that there are more effective ways to approach the question than banning gambling all together.
Thus, Sweden and the United Kingdom set an example last year by both strengthening regulations towards online operators, and at the same time working on making the process of wagering and claiming bonuses as clear as possible. Attentive players and readers of portals might have noticed global changes, such as more detailed information about promotion wagering policies, direct links to bonus terms and conditions, while online operators toned down the gimmicks for bonus announcements on their websites.
Now, instead of free spins and blurred perspectives of getting free cash, gambling destinations cultivate a tradition to provide zero-wager extra spins for new users to test the waters and decide whether to become registered customers.
While Europe’s eyes are on how to make the online gambling process safer and more informed, USA is just about to test the waters and to set its own boundaries after the government denounces PASPA and turns sports betting into a legal activity. Our portal completed extensive research on this issue just a few weeks ago.
Sweden and the United Kingdom set an example last year by both strengthening regulations towards online operators, and at the same time working on making the process of wagering and claiming bonuses as clear as possible.
While more and more American states allow players to bet on sports, online gaming on slots and table games is still under strict regulations. Will there be a thaw in this segment of the industry, too? This is the question we directed to Will Burrows, Vice President of a USA-based software developing company, Crazy Tooth Studios, and here’s what he replied: “I think it’s quite possible that we’ll see a similar emergence of US online gaming as we’ve seen with sports betting. The explosion of online poker (despite being put in check), the popularity of free-to-play social and land-based casinos recognizing that online gaming will probably only help their business all seem to point to online gaming becoming more prevalent in the US. But we shall see”.
In 2018 we were getting ready to interview representatives of Pragmatic Play – a well-known creator of slots. By that time, the popularity of live dealer software was steadily growing, so we asked the company: “Do you consider adding this type of content to your portfolio?” While that interview got postponed, we pretty much got our answer a couple months later, when the brand announced that it is set to launch all-new live casino products.
Live dealer for online operators initially started out as a set of a classic trio – baccarat, roulette, and blackjack. It did not take the leaders of the industry long, however, to massively diversify not only the selection of games in general, but also each game separately. Take a look, for instance, at Evolution Gaming’s Lightning Roulette with its special effects and modifiers that no other game in an actual land-based venue would ever be able to offer. What is more, when going through the list of websites to add to our database, we even spotted live slots, where a dealer would manually press the button to spin the slot’s reels while working on camera.
Software developers also spend a great deal of time in improving the gaming interface by adding more cameras and other interactive features, and we predict drastic improvement of this segment in the nearest future, as well as its availability at portfolios of more and more content creators.
Plus, land-based venues are not ready to lose their audience and revenue to virtual gambling platforms, so more and more of them will add live stream from lobbies. This tendency is currently more popular in Asia, but we expect it to come to Europe in bigger amounts this year.
It is not enough any more to simply produce slots with new features. The list of small software developing studios grows every day, and so does the selection of reeled machines. The players become more and more experienced and savvy, so the industry has to be even more inventive to stay ahead of the game.
Some of the latest trends are slots crossed with video games, which means progress bars, level-based play and customized interfaces. Last year, NetEnt issued a series of so-called blitz slots, where the entire process is simplified, and a spin takes less than a second. More and more manufacturers turn to adapting popular TV series to the grids, as this means that users can benefit not only from bonuses, but also from advanced stories told by characters.
While players become more and more picky, so do the casinos in their chase after customer attention. More and more brands order customized content. Thus, We Are Casino produced Betzest slot for a website with the same title and available exclusively in its library, while Green Jade Gaming developed a whole story for Mr. Green platform and named the reeled machine Finding Mr. Green.
By the end of 2018, 21% of the total gaming gross win was generated on slots, and 34% - on table games, H2GC informs. Having said that, as well as understanding that it is hard to keep a player interested, if nothing changes, even if we are talking about a classic roulette, we are keen to know what the manufacturers will offer to innovate a cohort as traditional and unchangeable as table games.
Among some of the leaders of innovation in this segment is Switch Studios – a niche developer that works on diversifying Microgaming’s portfolio. This young and ambitious team already rebuilt from scratch Classic and American Roulette, and release of refreshed blackjack is coming up soon
Estimated distribution for table game types according to KeyToCasino data and general trends of their developing are reflected below:
Speaking of new and ambitious studios, we’ve witnessed plenty of new names over the course of the past couple of years, and this is just the beginning. The B2B segment is growing, and major corporations, such as Microgaming and Playtech, tend to layer their companies by functions and tasks.
I-tech giants switch to legal and marketing segments more by collecting and compiling game libraries and providing them to online operators. At the same time, they delegate the development of new games to smaller companies and startups. This is especially the case with Microgaming, which in 2018 alone announced more than five brands to become its content manufacturing partners. This tendency will continue to grow in 2019, with more leading corporations following this pattern.
When researching for this article, we noticed that several other portals listed crypto-currency as the currency to take over in 2019. According to the statistics of online operators that we added to our database throughout 2018, this is not exactly the case.
Digital cash is still in demand, but this demand is definitely not as high as in, let’s say, 2017. In terms of diversity, Bitcoin still dominates, although its value dropped down significantly. This also almost destroyed all other exotic currencies.
BTC impacted the industry greatly by introducing a simpler gaming process, and online operators took it even further this year by integrating the innovative Pay N Play methods. The flagman here is Trustly. It was the first to offer a system, in which a player would not need to sign up for casino services. All a user has to do now is add a deposit, and the technologies would take care of the rest.
BTC impacted the industry greatly by introducing a simpler gaming process, and online operators took it even further this year by integrating the innovative Pay N Play methods.
This Pay N Play method is currently available to a limited number of countries, but with a service as convenient it is now only a matter of time for other places to bet and win to integrate registration-free gaming processes. Thus, a second brand to join the initiative is Entercash, which supports instant depositing and withdrawals for Finland.
Themed operators become more and more popular, and developing teams spend more time deciding how to make locations look original. All this is due to the expansion of the industry and rising level of competition for the attention of online players.
A good example of a concept brand is Casino Heroes, which looks like a game more than it does like a gaming library. The website comes with level-based navigation, rewards, maps and missions. Among other examples are brands like Ninja and Duelz.
When summing up this article, we couldn’t help but wonder about the what ifs. The previous eight trends are the conclusions we were able to draw based on stats and current events. But what would an online operator of the future look like? Have you ever wondered? We did, and here’s what we thought:
- Slots may be combined with interactive studying, which will make the entire process rewarding not only in the material sense.
- Games may also become more plot-based, with in-built storylines, characters, trailers, and episodes.
- Major gaming groups may combine slots with stores, thus making it possible to play and shop and the same time. Points gained in reel spinning may be exchanged for goods within the game.
- Operators may partner with payment methods, and players will be able to simply log into banking accounts and see, to which gaming locations these are connected.