After beginning life back in 1994, when the first legislation that allowed for licenses to be issued to online casinos and sports betting sites was passed, few people could have predicted how big the iGaming industry would become. By 2017, iGaming, which is made up of online casinos, poker, sportsbooks, and bingo, had grown to $46 billion. And believe it or not, it is expected to almost double by 2024, reaching $88 billion worldwide.
This growth has attracted many operators to the sector, which is mostly dominated by several major players, including publicly traded companies. With so much revenue up for grabs, iGaming companies offer very generous bonuses and free bet promotions to attract new customers and retain existing ones. For example, Oddschecker has a list of more than 50 different free casino bonuses available to UK customers.
The Source of Growth
The growth of iGaming in the early days came from the fact that it was more convenient for customers to play casino games from their computer at home, rather than having to travel to a land-based casino. Some people may not have lived near a casino, or could not travel to one easily. In their cases, online casinos were their first opportunity to play games like poker, blackjack and roulette.
This is the same as the eCommerce industry which has made it more convenient for consumers to buy products from the comfort of their own home. In fact, the eCommerce industry began its life at around the same time as iGaming and has followed a similar trajectory, although it is worth more than $500 billion worldwide.
Even More Convenience
Smartphones, which were popularised by the Apple iPhone in 2007 helped spark a mobile revolution that saw us move away from using computers in favour of the devices in our pockets. This meant iGaming operators could make their services even more convenient for customers. Through mobile apps, consumers could play games and bet on sports on the go, wherever they were.
This is particularly prominent in sports betting, where fans can place bets on matches while at home, on the go, or even inside a stadium. Some bookmakers even allow them to cash out early and follow the game live, so the sports betting app has become the perfect companion for a sports fan.
The poker boom took place between 2003 and 2006. During this time, the interest in the sport grew rapidly around the world, leading to the number of online poker players to double each year. Films like Rounders and the televising of events like the World Series of Poker helped to create more interest in the sport. Entries to the WSOP increased by 1400% between 2002 and 2006. It has remained a popular event on the poker calendar since.
The iGaming industry is regulated more strictly than many others. Operators require a license from an official body and must adhere to strict laws. Many territories, particularly in Asia still do not allow online casinos and bookmakers to operate, either to protect their existing land-based casinos or because wagering is not permitted in general anyway.
Regulations were relaxed in the United States in 2018, allowing individual states to set their own rules for companies that offer online sports betting services. This has seen a rush of brands looking to launch their new websites in places like New Jersey, hoping to gain an early mover advantage.
Demonstrating the opportunity available in the United States, New Jersey alone saw $250 million of sports bets placed just in the month of October 2018. In the same period, Nevada based operators processed more than twice as much. Meanwhile, Europe continues to be a strong market with stable regulations. In 2020, players are expected to wager around €25 billion in online casinos and poker rooms alone.
The iGaming industry’s prospects look rosy. Both revenues and balance sheets look set to continue to grow, with strong competition meaning consumers will benefit from generous bonus offers. However, this competition could force the merger and acquisition of operators in the quest of gaining more market share. Whatever happens, one thing is sure; the iGaming industry keeps growing and will continue to do so for a long time to come.