The birth of online gambling can be traced back to the mid 1990s, with the first real money wager being staked in 1996. By 2001, it was estimated that eight million people had gambled online.
Online gambling numbers have done nothing but evolve in the period since either. Figures released by the Gambling Commission in 2016 indicated that, at that time, a third of all gambling in Britain was carried out online.
The latest market research has attempted to project what awaits the industry over the next decade.
It is called “Online Gambling & Betting Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast, 2018 – 2026” and has been published by Transparency Market Research.
The main takeaway is the prediction that the online gambling market will expand by a mean annual growth rate of 11.8% by 2026. This will cause it to reach a value of $128.2 billion over the next eight years.
There are many different areas that come together under the online gambling umbrella. These are casino, bingo, poker, social gaming, lottery, sports betting and fantasy sports.
Projections by vertical
Referring back to the Gambling Commission figures, £4.5 billion was generated online, with £2.6 billion coming courtesy of casino games and £1.8 billion of this specifically from online slot machines.
The latest projections rank the online casino vertical among those that will continue to see the greatest gains, rising by 12%.
There are numerous reasons for the popularity of online casino games. With slots in particular, there is the opportunity to scoop life-changing jackpots from minimal stakes.
Alongside this, various offers can be capitalised upon when playing online. These could be Bonus Back, Cash Back, Deposit Bonuses, Stake and Get or Prize Draws.
Sports betting is the only vertical expected to trump online casinos, with the projected expansion annually being 14%.
Projections by device
Unsurprisingly, more substantial growth is tipped in the mobile gaming sphere, than for desktop devices.
In 2014, marketing agency Tecmark studied 2,000 smartphone owners and among the findings of the average user were that they picked up their phone over 1,500 times each week and used their device for more than three hours every day.
Through a continued emphasis on mobile devices, the industry increases its chances of recruiting a new generation of younger players, who may be drawn by additional responsive features and more mobile-friendly interfaces.
Meanwhile, there is obviously the scope to play games on mobile devices in what could be classified as dead or wasted hours, such as when commuting on a train.
A few sneaky games could even be enjoyed when using a bathroom, when sitting on a sofa during a TV ad break or when waiting for an evening meal to cook.
Players need to be much more organised and prepared to load up their desktop computers to enjoy a few hands of blackjack or spins of online slots.
The Transparency Market Research figures anticipate a 16% growth in the mobile gaming segment between 2018 and 2026, in comparison to just 6% in the desktop division.
Projections by region
In terms of the numbers from 2017, it was Europe that held the upper hand in terms of market share across online gambling and betting.
However, there is the potential for newer regions to substantially grow over the coming decade.
Chief among them is the Asia Pacific region, which is relatively new to the online gambling landscape. The projected growth here is 14%.
Next in terms of predicted growth at 12% is North America, with sports betting almost certain to considerably grow in the coming years.
Previously, Nevada was the only US state where wagering on the results of a single game was permitted.
But earlier this year the Supreme Court ruled on a 1992 federal law, which gives other states the approval to legalise sports betting. It has been estimated that as many as 32 states could take up this opportunity across the next five years.
Reasons for the projections
Three reasons have already been mentioned as explanations for the positive forecast – the expansion into new regions, the legalisation of online gambling in certain locations and the sustained development of technology for mobile devices.
Further advancement in Internet services is another, alongside a continued increase in trust of players to make online payments.
Meanwhile, the projections were also based on future integration between live streaming and players being able to customise their gaming intentions.
The popularity of ‘live’ gambling online was earmarked by some previous analysis by Search Engine Watch.
After delving into 2,000 keywords typed into a web browser in the UK, it was found that 22 of the 25 most expensive keywords related to gambling and 13 contained the word ‘live’.