Gaming Trends in 2016
By Imogen Rowley
Posted: 5th December 2016 08:27‘Evolve or die,’ is the motto, as technology continues its all-encompassing crusade to change the face of our planet as we know it. Few sectors have succeeded in dodging its sweeping grasp, and gaming is no exception. Since the first registered European casinos flung open their doors to punters at the start of the 17th century, gaming has largely been confined to smoke-filled betting outlets with frosted windows and stained carpets. Yet technology has revolutionised every aspect of the game, from in-play sports betting to mobile bingo apps; so much so that the whole industry is predicted to be worth US$56.05 billion by the end of 2018. Punters can now play 24 hours a day, use their credit cards and place bets on any device they have at hand. Young people in particular are not as inclined to sit for hours at an old-fashioned slot machine or in the dingy interior of a high street bookies as they are to stare at the blank face of their smartphone or tablet, luring huge numbers of formerly disinterested people into the clutch of casino websites and sports betting apps. Accessibility, reliability and increasingly glossy, engrossing experiences are expanding the appeal of gaming, often into emerging and densely populated markets such as India and Brazil. Although 2016 has been a year of ups and downs for the industry as a whole, now is an exciting time to be a part of the action.
Yet the face of gaming is changing: in the UK, the number of betting shops decreased by 1.9% compared to 2015, while the number of arcades fell by an alarming 11.1%. Despite this, the total gambling yield for the British gambling industry increased by over £1bn – thanks to a rise in smartphone and tablet usage, the total number of gamblers is rising rapidly. Technology analysts Juniper Research predict that the number of players placing real money bets on their mobile devices will increase by 100 million in the next five years – traditional bookmakers are just one of many high-street stalwarts staring down a reckoning from their online counterparts. Activities that were once the realm of dedicated ‘real-world’ environments such as casinos or bingo halls can now be carried out anywhere, making gambling a mainstream leisure pursuit – an estimated 70% of remote gambling takes place on mobile devices, which gives rise to adaptations such as in-play betting during live events and cash-out options that simply couldn’t have existed 10 years ago. In addition, big name online bookmakers can now offer odds on over 700 leagues in more than 100 nations, using complex algorithms that work out the figures for them, removing some of the risks harboured by traditional bookmakers. If you want to bet on the Costa Rican Premier Division or the Serbian Superliga, you can, opening up whole new avenues of moneymaking.
The other side of this shiny sword is, of course, an increase in the reach of gambling addiction, opposition from a powerful casino industry wary of sparkly new competition, as well as from traditional anti-gambling lobbyers who object to gaming on moral grounds. The spread of internet gambling has also made it easier for corporations to isolate winning punters and restrict or ban them from betting. Regulators are catching up but often the technology is just far too clever and the odds far more in favour of large gaming conglomerates. However, the future looks bright for sports betting technology developers, with a slew of revolutionary new features sitting pretty on the horizon: social integration, virtual reality (such as in slots games) and augmented reality in our homes, with sports betting odds overlaying our TV screens.