It hardly seems possible that as recently as twenty years ago there were no online casinos in the world. If one wanted to play games like roulette, blackjack or the slots then one had to seek out a so-called “bricks and mortar” casino and venture there from home.
But, as with so many things, the internet changed all that and today it seems like the land-based casino might be in a decline while the online version is very much in the ascendant. In recent years even the unofficial capital of casino gambling, Las Vegas, has seen its revenues falling while the profits of the online casino operators have been on the rise.
It’s all about convenience.
There have been many reasons put forward for the continuing growth of the sector and the first of these must surely be the convenience. How much easier it is to register for an online casino and be able to start playing almost immediately than to go through the process of actually visiting a casino. The fact that the online version is open and available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year simply strengthens their appeal.
Of course, a great deal of success is also down to the advance of the players’ own technology. Whereas it was once only possible to play on a PC or laptop, the arrival and advance of the smartphone and tablet meant that truly mobile play became possible. This not only encouraged many more people to try online casinos, it has also increased the opportunities for play.
It’s also led to many more games being made possible as well as making them more sophisticated in the process. This has particularly been the case for online slots, as the most popular games for players, and the most reliably profitable for casinos, a great deal of time, money and effort goes into making sure there is a steady stream of new titles being introduced.
The themes for these are wide-ranging, but one of the most popular trends has been to tie these in with big-budget Hollywood movies like The Avengers series to draw movie and comic fans into playing.
Another major advance has been the rise of the “live” online casino. It has always been the aim of sites to re-create the atmosphere and ambience of a real casino as closely as possible.
So, when internet speeds and bandwidth increased to a high enough level, it meant that this came to a step closer with live streaming. So today all of the leading online casinos offer games including roulette, blackjack and baccarat that feature real dealers playing in actual time.
A clever piece of technology – similar to the car number plate recognition cameras in use today – captures the values of the cards or the number in which the roulette ball has landed and digitizes the information for online play. The addition of a chat function also makes it possible to converse with the dealer, just as one would do in a real casino.
The world’s online casino hotspots
In terms of where in the world the online casino is booming, the leading country is undoubtedly the UK. According to official figures, between October 2018 and September 2019, the gross gambling revenue was £3.2 billion, a near 4% increase on the figure for April 2018 and March 2019 figure.
In contrast, the revenue generated by actual casinos over the same period was only £1.1 billion, a fall of 0.6%. Another country where it’s very popular in Australia which has a long history of playing the “pokies” – another name for slots games.
What lies ahead?
Looking to the future, there are a number of exciting developments that promise to catapult online casinos to even higher levels of popularity and success. The first of these is the increasing use of virtual and augmented reality.
It’s likely that the very first VR casino is only round the corner and this is likely to be a real game-changer. The potential is limitless and will make the live online casino experience more realistic than it has ever been.
At the moment, the majority of online casino players are in the 40+ age group so we can expect to see efforts being made to attract a younger group of millennials as well. One area being investigated is that of skill-based slots games.
The theory is that a generation brought up on video games will be keener to play casino games over which they have some control and can use their video game-playing skills. So, again, we can expect to see these becoming more widely available very soon.
But, whatever happens, one thing is for certain. Online casinos are here to stay and the sky is the limit for how successful they will continue to be.