The impact of technology on the gambling industry
Imagine a world where food isn’t brought to us by Deliveroo, we can’t order a taxi using Uber on our phones or where we can’t buy last minute Christmas presents delivered straight to our doors the next day by Amazon. Our dependence on technology has become massive and our everyday lives are affected in almost every way.
From improved video calls that are making long distance meetings and international working easy to voice-activated personal assistants like the Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo, everything is slowly but surely being improved or made even easier. Even if (like me) you hate doing laundry, there’s an app where you can pay a pro to come and collect your washing and return it pressed the next day, for a fee of course. You’ll soon only be able to claim benefits, pay council tax and contact your MP electronically too, with post dying a slow death as we edge towards an online world reliant on emails and automation. Soon, there won’t be a single industry that hasn’t been infiltrated by technology.
What does technology mean for business?
All these great innovations are improving profits and making life easier right? Well, for some yes. The tech startups that dominated the 2010s such as Uber, Deliveroo, Amazon and countless other phone-based services may be reaping the rewards, but some industries are truly struggling due to the growth of this convenience culture. Cinemas, which used to be the only way to see the latest movies, are now back in dangerous territory after surviving the piracy plague, only for Netflix, Now TV and Amazon to swoop in and eat up market share with home-based streaming that brings the movies direct to people’s living rooms. It’s no wonder popcorn and sweets cost more than the ticket itself these days – they need to make up their revenues somehow.
One industry that is currently walking the line however is gambling. Since the 2000s, online gambling has been slowly improving from the frankly dull late night 2D poker rooms where users traded insults, into a star-studded experience that puts many casinos to shame. The whole online poker and casino gaming experience has become so good that online gaming is now responsible for over a third of gaming revenues in the UK, and more people than ever are playing poker online rather than heading to a casino.
Technology is king
Thanks to vastly improved graphics and innovations like live casino, where dealers are broadcast directly to screens via HD video feed, online poker has become a lot more attractive and closer to the exciting, competitive gameplay you’ll find at the casino. This, combined with better offers and attractive introductory bonuses that are offered by many websites, is slowly driving customers away from expensive casinos. The big focus on technology is also changing the average age of poker players, with a new generation of 18-24s now the most active poker players out there, both online and at tournaments.
The beauty of mobile poker is that games can be played anywhere, anytime, so commuters, students and even workers on their lunch breaks can get involved. The same goes for other forms of gambling, including sports betting and games like bingo. The effect that technology is having is so strong that bookmakers in particular are feeling the pinch, with less people likely to take a trip to their local high street to gamble, preferring a warm living room and phone, computer or tablet that comes with the additional benefit of instant access to funds. Luckily most high street brands now have a solid online presence, but the biggest sufferers in the swing to online gambling are traditional arcades and now bingo halls. In fact, the number of arcades in the UK fell by 11% from 2015 to 2016, showing an industry area that is in steady decline. It seems land-based arcades that pay overheads and rent costs just can’t compete with websites that are relatively cheap to run after initial set-up costs.
Casinos could well be on this path too. With online casinos so easy to access and thousands of online poker rooms readily available, the whole hassle of getting ready, paying for a taxi into the city centre then paying for expensive food and drinks when inside the casino is a waste of gambling funds for many money-savvy poker players. Just take a look at market leaders 888 Poker, who have a gigantic selection of poker rooms for players of all abilities, a huge selection of variants and year-round offers and deposit bonuses that won’t be found in a physical casino. It’s hard to see how the real world can compete, especially now that the whole ‘human interaction’ element is now being solved with virtual reality.
Back to the future
Then there’s the future of online gambling. There are some really exciting products around the corner that will take concepts like live casino even further. Virtual reality has had gamblers excited for a long time; imagine sitting in an exciting casino atmosphere and taking on the best players around the world, without having to get off the sofa. As VR becomes more accessible and more affordable, it could be the death knell for physical casinos.
For the time being, there are still plenty of casino advocates out there as well as customers who may pay a visit once in a blue moon to keep casino doors open, but technology may be a ticking time bomb that could undermine visitor numbers. Some casinos may even need to copy the bookmaker model and take their experience fully online, so when the time does come they won’t be left high and dry.
The good news for technology lovers however is that things will only get better from this point. As internet speeds get faster and device capabilities become even more impressive, the online gambling experience isn’t too far off leaving the traditional ‘real life’ experience in the dust.