The past months have presented unprecedented challenges to every business sector, and casinos have been hit as hard by the restrictions and lockdowns as the rest of the leisure industry.

Yet challenging times also act as drivers for change and innovation. Online gaming has boomed during the course of 2020, as people have found themselves with time on their hands and nowhere to go but cyberspace.

Here, we take a look at how a changing world and emerging technology are affecting new online casinos. Whether you spend your time online or exploring the strip in Las Vegas, these are some of the casino trends that you will encounter with increasing regularity.


Virtual reality

VR has become something of a holy grail in gaming. When products like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift hit the shelves a couple of years ago, it seemed that the technology was hitting the mainstream. But as far as gaming itself is concerned, that has not quite proved to be the case, and VR games remain on the periphery.

However, the technology is there. VR is being used more and more in other sectors, such as medicine, military and architectural design. In 2019, the VR market was worth an estimated $16.8 billion, and this figure is expected to more than double by the end of 2023.

VR will find its place in mainstream gaming, and the current barrier is not about the technology, but more down to consumer indifference.

iGaming is leading the charge in VR adoption. Here’s a sector where the realism of the online experience is a key selling point, and in such a competitive marketplace, platforms are eager to invest in any technology that can give them the edge.

Combining an iGaming platform with a VR headset means the visitor can walk into the virtual lobby, sit at a gaming table and watch as the cards are dealt or the wheel is spun.


Digital currency

A couple of years ago, the first Bitcoin casinos appeared on the scene, and were greeted as something of a novelty. Many felt this was a fad that would disappear in the same way as other blockchain-based games like the ill-fated Cryptokitties. Yet as the volatility of Bitcoin and the most popular altcoins has reduced, so adoption has increased.

Crypto has become commonplace, especially in nations where a large amount of financial transactions are completed on mobile devices. For example, one in three Nigerians and one in five Vietnamese routinely use crypto.

The relevance for online casinos, whose visitors are flooding from desktop to mobile, is clear. As such, the concept of “Bitcoin casinos” is disappearing and instead, regular iGaming platforms are starting to add Bitcoin as a payment mechanism, alongside the traditional alternatives like PayPal, Neteller and so on.

There is every chance of this snowballing in a virtuous circle. Crypto offers distinct advantages to gamers in terms of security, anonymity and speed of transactions. These are exactly the qualities that casino gamers are looking for, and as more new casinos provide crypto as an option, more gamers will take it up. By the same token, as more gamers take it up, more new casino sites will offer it.


Augmented reality

It is common to see VR and AR discussed as a single topic, but their applications in, and impacts on, the casino market are quite separate. While VR creates a new world in cyberspace, AR enhances the gaming experience by seamlessly integrating the real and virtual worlds. Expect to see its impact more and more in both virtual and real-world casinos over the coming months.

One of the key areas of VR lies in face and voice recognition technology. In the socially distanced world that we currently see around us, this reduces the need for human interaction at a real casino.

Instead, every function, from arrival at reception to sitting at a machine to cashing out at the end of the night, can be automated, and the machine or autocashier will instantly know exactly who you are.

Likewise online, face and voice recognition can draw you into the virtual gaming experience, and create a casino night that is tailored to your personal preferences.


New and expanding markets

The world is changing in other ways beyond those mentioned earlier. Attitudes are shifting, and with that, the suspicions of casinos and moral objections towards gambling are dwindling. This, in turn, is driving regulatory change and opening up some exciting new markets.

The USA is the most obvious example. It’s almost two years since the US Supreme Court made its historic ruling on sports betting, and this has signalled a growing acceptance of all sorts of gambling across one state after another.

Now, the US is a large and important market, but there are similar changes afoot in even more populous nations across Asia and the Indian Subcontient.

Japan legalized casino gaming in 2018. Interestingly, this had little to do with domestic needs, and the majority of the Japanese electorate opposed the move. It was actually all about meeting expected demand when thousands of visitors arrived for the Olympics.

The change in law paved the way for three casino resorts, with the likes of the Sands Corporation and MGM Resorts International Group rushing to get in on the action. Of course, this year’s events meant Japan is still waiting for all those gamblers to arrive, but the infrastructure is well and truly in place.

India is another emerging market, although here, physical casinos are still only legal in two states. That, however, brings us to the real boom town for casino gaming. Cyberspace cares nothing about national or state boundaries, and as the online experience has got better and more accessible, this is where the serious gaming is now happening.

It has made for a vibrant but massively competitive marketplace – in fact, the online boom and the change in attitudes has made ‘casino’ the third most expensive keyword in the USA.

Live gaming

Ultimately, the major trends all point in one direction, and that is to increasingly popular online platforms offering a casino experience that is more realistic than ever.

This is exemplified by the live gaming phenomenon. It allows players to enjoy a real casino experience where they can chat with the croupier and watch him or her deal the cards or spin the wheel in real time.

Today, practically every online platform offers live games, and just like in a real casino, you will typically see perhaps a dozen blackjack tables, six roulette wheels and two or three baccarat games.

Live gaming will continue to expand, and expect the choice of games to get even bigger, with games like cribbage and whist joining the fray.


Resources

  1. Kommando Tech (2019, December 04): 30 Virtual Reality Statistics for 2020 https://kommandotech.com/statistics/virtual-reality-statistics/
  1. CasinoBlox (2020, November 05): New Online Casinos Canada https://www.casinoblox.ca/online-casinos/new/
  2. Statista (2020, August 10): How Common is Crypto? https://www.statista.com/chart/18345/crypto-currency-adoption/
  3. Wordstream (2020, October 14): Most Expensive Keywords https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/06/27/most-expensive-keywords