How the iGaming Industry Became a Multi-Billion-Dollar Industry
Today, the iGaming industry, which consists of online casinos, poker rooms, bingo, sports betting, and lotteries, is worth more than $50 billion dollars. It has reached these heady heights in just 25 years, an impressive feat for an industry that did not exist before 1994.
In 1994, the government of Antigua and Barbuda passed legislation known as the Free Trade and Processing Zone Act. This made it legal to operate an online casino from its territory, and began a race among developers to build a system to accept wagers over the internet.
The first site to open was a Swiss lottery, which first started selling virtual tickets in 1995. Just a few years later there were hundreds of online casinos, most of which were experiencing huge demand from customers who enjoyed the novelty of being able to play their favourite casino games at home.
Microsoft’s Windows 95 operating system, which was released around the same time made it much easier for consumers to get online, helping to increase demand further.
Over the next decade, computers became more powerful, internet connections got faster, and web technologies improved. The 1996 release of Macromedia Flash made it possible for more interactive online casinos that ran from a web browser.
This made it possible for sounds and animations in casino games, which at the time was a novel innovation.
Today, there are sites that offer every time of casino game to most regions around the world. From casinos providing trusted roulette in Ireland to sportsbook websites in Nigeria, iGaming spread across the world rapidly.
Many more people have access to a casino now than ever before since the people who don’t live near one or have the means to travel long distances to visit one can still play games and wager.
The Mobile Revolution
In 2007, Apple launched the first iPhone and smartphone adoption exploded overnight. iGaming companies were quick to spot this opportunity and began released mobile apps that allowing consumers to enjoy casino games on the go.
Mobile games were, and still remain some of the most popular applications that can be downloaded from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Their simple mechanics and ability to “dip in and out” of them frequently made them popular among more casual gamers.
Bookmakers have also enjoyed increased growth thanks to smartphones. Sports fans can now use betting apps to place bets while at the game or watching on TV from home.
This has helped to popularise proposition (prop) bets which are usually made during the game. These are where fans bet on things like “the next player to score” or whether there will be any penalties awarded. Before smartphones, fans would have needed to be in front of a computer or in a betting shop during the game, which is often not convenient.
Today, the mobile market accounts for a large proportion of online gaming revenues.
The 1998 film, Rounders, and the increased number of TV broadcasts of the World Series of Poker helped to popularise the game of poker. This led to a huge increase in the number of people playing it online, with dedicated poker sites springing up to serve this demand.
All of this has been achieved with heavily restrictive legislation in the US that has made it difficult for brands to operate within the country. Instead, growth over the last decade has been seen in Europe, where the online casino market alone is expected to exceed €20 billion in 2020.
This is expected to change in the coming years though. In 2018, US legislation began to loosen, allowing states to set their own rules for online sportsbook companies. It’s expected that more than 50% of all US states could allow their citizens to place sports bets online by 2025. This could lead to a whole new boom.
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