Gambling trends insights
Gambling has become one of the most popular pastimes. Indeed, a chapter on gambling, commissioned by the U.K. Gambling Commission, in a Health Survey for England found nearly 70 percent of men and more than 60 percent of women in England take part in gambling. Gambling trends evolve over time, and the industry continues to grow as more online venues become available. Here is a complete coverage of the leading trends that shape the offline and online gambling industry- from major consolidation to exciting new technologies.
From Fortune-Telling to SportAs one of the world's oldest activities, gambling has generated both income and controversy for many civilizations. The authorities in ancient Greece and Rome attempted to discourage gambling among their subjects, often for religious reasons. However, this industry started as a form of divination. People sought answers to life's most compelling questions through rolls of crude dice.
Wagering and Organized GamblingDivination gave rise to wagering. People would place bets on the outcome of each throw. While governments attempted to ban or discourage gambling, the practice continued throughout history. At many points, gambling endured a period of societal acceptance, but a scandal or other upheaval resulted in government intervention.
Organized gambling became more widespread near the end of the 1600s in both Europe and Asia. Mathematically inclined people learned to cheat the system, anticipating cards in a deck or using probability theory to calculate the odds on a throw of the dice. Consequently, the gambling industry has developed several innate vulnerabilities that governments and venues have sought to end to make gambling as fair as possible.
Online GamblingThe Internet opened new possibilities for gamblers. By 1999, more than 250 websites had begun accepting bets and wagers from online players. Since many jurisdictions lacked laws that addressed betting and gambling, debates over legality flared.
Although some countries have forbidden online gambling, England and other parts of the U.K. have embraced it as a revenue generator. If the venue, the host company, has a remote gambling license, adult U.K. citizens can place bets on its website.
Despite the controversy that gambling has generated in various countries, it remains a key ingredient in many cultures. Enthusiasts often track gambling trends and industry shifts to capitalize on them.
What Is a Market Trend?In finance, a market trend is a change in the way people approach transactions, always with the goal of maximizing revenue. These trends impact every financial industry in the world, from stocks and bonds to Forex and derivatives. For instance, market trends sometimes involve cross-border issues or disputes. If political instability pervades a specific country, people from other countries might hesitate to take part in that market; over time, the lack of participation becomes a trend.
Market trends also influence the gambling industry. Several factors can shape and perpetuate market trends as circumstances change, including the following:
Economic Rises and Depressions
When the economy flourishes, citizens have more disposable income and, therefore, take part more actively in gambling. Not only do they have more cash, but they also have fewer reservations about risking their money in a game.Conversely, gambling activity slows during a recession or depression. Citizens find themselves more protective of their assets, so they don't want to put them at risk.
Patterns and Situations
This type of market trend is most common in sports betting. Participants will notice patterns in how teams perform in specific situations, such as whether they're playing a home or away game.You might also see situational data play a part in racetrack betting. Horses behave differently on a fast track, or dry dirt, than they do in the mud after rain. Gamblers will hedge their bets differently based on how situational data changes.
Like other industries, some gambling activities fall out of favor and generate interest again later. For example, between 2008 and 2014, remote gambling participation rose significantly in the U.K. as citizens discovered the ease and pleasure of playing online.However, other types of gambling, such as dog-race betting and national lotteries, saw participation decrease. These cultural shifts can last months, years, or decades.
LawsWhen governments outlaw specific types of gaming or impose restrictions on the people who can take part, trends emerge.
Governmental intervention in other financial industry areas can also influence gambling trends. For instance, if the government broadly increases tax rates, citizens have less spending money for gambling.
Technology BreakthroughsWhen new gambling technology debuts, it often experiences a spike in interest among gambling populations. To sustain popularity takes overall appeal and public perception.Remote gambling offers an example. The ability to gamble without visiting a casino or racetrack generates significant interest from people worldwide.
Famous Faces and EndorsementsWhen celebrities and other high-profile people endorse a particular gaming trend or partner with a casino or other venue, interest rises among the general population. Celebrity poker is one example of the power influencers hold over others. Celebrity poker tournaments allow fans to mingle with their favorite celebs while contributing to worthy causes, such as disease research.
TourismOn-property gaming trends often reflect the tourism market in a specific jurisdiction. The PwC's Global Gaming Outlook report, for instance, reveals that Singapore has benefited from both tourism and the gaming industry because the government has promoted gambling as a visitor attraction and an activity for locals.
Design and Entertainment
Both on-property and online gaming venues offer a specific cultural, design aesthetic. These factors can influence the people who patronize them, especially when new venues open. People try new venues and find themselves drawn to specific environments based on personal preferences. These market trends can change at a sudden or slower pace.Many other market trends exist, each either subtly or forcefully changing the types of games people pursue and the way they take risks. Gaming can be more profitable and enjoyable when you understand market trends and anticipate their arrival, especially as you gain experience.
Who Forecasts and Covers Market Trends?If you're interested in researching and capitalizing on market trends, you can find information through various global and local sources. Due to its popularity, the gambling industry has inspired publications and organizations that track market trends and report on them for consumers.
The Gambling Authorities
The Mintel Academic, for example, reports gambling trends and news revolving around the U.K. market. This subscription-based publication covers specific data in a range of gambling venues, from online casinos to interactive gambling. CalvinAyre.com offers another source of U.K. gambling news and trends if you're looking for a free outlet.Printed publications in the gambling industry include the World Lottery Almanac by TLF Publications and the North American Gaming Almanac by Bear, Stearns & Co. Each publication hits the shelves annually and includes market research, statistics, and other compelling data in the industry.
The U.K.'s IBISWorld also offers useful information. It provides some data for free, such as gambling's annual revenue and number of U.K. businesses in the gaming space. However, you must subscribe if you want more in-depth coverage.
A Friendly Tip
Fellow gamblers can offer a range of trend information as well. Since gambling is a social activity, most participants interact with one another and share tips and advice. You might hear about a market trend from a friend who likes online casinos as much as you do, then research the information through more official channels.While you might not want to rely on hearsay for your own gambling activities, informal sources can offer a starting point for more in-depth research.
How Is Consolidation Impacting Gambling Trends?High-profile mergers and consolidations have the potential to impact every facet of online and on-property gaming. A consolidation or merger occurs when two gambling venues consolidate, join companies to form one entity. Although venues sometimes keep dual brands — using the names, logos, and other qualities of each company — they no longer run as separate businesses but are often united under a single C-suite and a conjoined chain of management.
Maximize the Merger
After a consolidation, two businesses work hard to keep their customers. If they're successful, these businesses can increase their client base, creating greater profits with lower overhead. Consolidations occur with both on-property gaming facilities and online casinos.For example, bwin, a Gibraltar-based online gambling company, merged with Caribbean-based PartyGaming Plc in 2011. Analysts considered this merger the first consolidation of its time and served to inspire other mergers and acquisitions across the industry. After they announced the merger, share prices rose 20 percent. Eighty percent of experts theorized that the merger would boost profits in related industries.
Changing the Game
Consolidation impacts gambling trends in several of the following ways:
- Survival: Many online gambling properties fail to attract enough players to generate a profit. The merger rescues those properties and gives them the opportunity to leverage a more successful company's client base. Each time this scenario happens, customers from both companies get exposed to new gambling environments, which can affect future trends.
- Publicity: A merger or consolidation almost always generates press. The news coverage can alert potential gamblers to new opportunities, which drives interest in, and revenue for, the merging companies.
- Uncertainty: Although consolidations can greatly increase revenue for the participating businesses, they also introduce at least a small degree of instability. In some cases, the uncertainty drives away customers who want to patronize more stable venues.
- Pricing: After a merger, companies might offer limited-time or long-term price reductions, potentially attracting more players. Even a short-term boost in engagement can have far-reaching effects on revenue and profitability, especially if customers enjoy the venue and decide to stay even after price reductions expire.
- Diversification: Uniting two gambling services under one umbrella can diversify offerings for both businesses. These businesses can penetrate new markets that their budgets would not have previously supported, paving the way for future changes in market trends.
- Confusion: In some cases, consolidations create confusion among the target market. Gambling platforms must transition with maximum transparency to make sure that they don't alienate their target audience or drive away consumers based on confusion.
Offline Gambling TrendsOn-property and offline gambling have evolved over hundreds of years. Their presence is deeply ingrained in nearly all global cultures. However, specific factors have influenced market trends over and over, including the following:
Gambling's popularity has convinced local, regional, and national governments to legalize gambling. As new jurisdictions adopt gambling, issues such as tourism and market share change to adjust to the influx of gambling revenue. For example, the U.K.'s Gambling Act 2005 created an opportunity for businesses to build more casinos in England, Wales, and Scotland. This act established a bidding system for cities to express interest in building larger casinos for revenue generation.Similarly, lottery regulation in the U.K. has served as a significant source of revenue as well as a major influence on market trends. The U.K. legalized off-course betting and other forms of wagers in 1968, paving the way for the growth of online gambling. However, offline gambling has remained consistent even with remote options.
Late adoption can encourage a short- or longer-term surge in gambling interest. For example, Spain didn't legalize gambling until 1977 and waited until 1981 to legalize games of chance. By 2011, however, the country had a high-traffic gambling population for betting and lotteries.
Bans have the opposite effect on market trends. While a ban removes the option for public offline gambling, it can also encourage illegal gambling. For example, when the Taliban outlawed gaming in Afghanistan based on Shari'a law, citizens continued to place wagers on underground sporting events like boxing. Illegal gambling might generate revenue for citizens, but this form of gambling has no benefit for a local government or an economy.
The entertainment industry often claims credit for influencing gaming trends among specific games. For example, televising the World Series of Poker Tournament generated interest in all different types of poker, which increased revenue for offline casinos with poker tables. Certain poker games, such as Texas Hold 'em, exert special appeal because of the logic and strategy required to win a tournament.Diversity can also impact individual game popularity. The slot machine has long served as the primary money-maker for many offline casinos, but slots experience an extra surge of interest when new games debut. Interested consumers try the new games out of curiosity.
Where to Play
The offline gambling industry doesn't include casinos and racetracks only. Other venues support gaming activity and can influence the ways both locals and tourists interact with games. For instance, the PwC's global report reveals that Italy generates significant revenue from its many gaming machines scattered throughout commercial venues instead of concentrated in casinos. When consumers have access to gaming machines at businesses they frequent, such as restaurants and shopping malls, they might change their habits.
Additionally, the frequency of venue openings can influence market trends. The PwC expects gambling-industry growth to slow because of the lack of new venue openings in the near future. Meanwhile, when Russia limited legal gambling to more remote locations within the country, gambling activity slowed because consumers did not have easy access to legal venues.
Paying the Piper
Some countries choose to tax consumers who generate a certain amount of income from gambling. According to the PwC, South Africa decided in 2012 to begin a 15 percent tax on gambling winnings totaling more than R25,000. Experts expected this new tax to discourage gambling. Increased gambling taxes in the Netherlands and other countries have had a negative impact on the industry.
At one time, men were the significant demographic in offline gambling venues, but that state has changed. The Gambling Commission's report revealed increasing trends in female gambling and decreasing trends in male gambling across multiple games. Since specific demographics unite people around shared qualities, these trends feed on each other as people follow their peers toward specific gambling activities.Additionally, past generations have seen greater percentages of older citizens involved in gambling. Retirees and senior citizens generally have more spare time, and many devote a specific percentage of their incomes to gaming activities. However, that trend seems to have reversed, at least in some countries. The Gambling Commission reveals decreasing trends in gambling among citizens ages 55 and older.
As younger people take an interest in the gambling industry, the amount spent per person and the types of games that enjoy the most popularity can change. Additionally, as offline gambling loses its social stigma, younger gamblers feel more comfortable participating in games in public venues.
Sports betting remains popular in most countries, and sportsbooks have risen in popularity as well.A sportsbook allows citizens to place bets on sporting events in casinos, racetracks, and other venues. Participants can watch the odds change on television or computer screens and engage in conversation. The time of year directly impacts sportsbooks activity since availability depends on which sports are in season.
Gambling in the Digital Age
Although offline and online gambling are often seen as separate industries, the offline gambling world has seeped into online venues and games as the lines between the two become blurred. For instance, some casinos allow participants to place bets online even though they're in a physical gambling venue. The increased interest in virtual reality, VR, could also impact the gambling industry in the future as VR casinos arise.
Online Gambling trendsLike its offline counterpart, online gambling activity depends heavily on market conditions. As trends change, new venues appear, while others fade into obscurity. Different demographics get involved with online gambling as word spreads about the opportunities, and online gaming legality can radically influence native participation.
Mobile Versus Desktop
When online gaming first gained popularity, the venues were restricted to those that facilitated gaming on desktop or laptop computers. However, the rise in mobile-device usage has shifted the trends in the other direction. Demand has risen significantly for mobile-friendly applications and websites.When gaming applications function well on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, people can take part in the games no matter where they go. They don't have to wait to get home and power up their desktop computers. They can place bets while they sit on the subway or in the reception area of their physicians' offices.
Some experts express concern that mobile gambling, such as for sports betting, has progressed faster than regulatory authorities can draft legislation. However, the rise in mobile interest has pervaded nearly every facet of the online gambling industry.
The University of Glasgow's Professor Gerda Reith reports that new technology at casinos is attracting fresh demographics — particularly young, inexperienced gamblers. Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, FOBTs, feature touch-screen functionality and a way for gamblers to bet on the outcome of games. New betting machine technology can reach different demographics and increase appeal across generations.Other technological advancements include betting that integrates with social media. For instance, Facebook's British users gained access to Jackpotjoy in 2012. The app provides access to casino-style games that users can play from the comfort of their own homes — or from anywhere that offers access to an Internet-connected device.
Until the Internet era, gamblers couldn't play or socialize with overseas participants unless they boarded a plane. Online gambling, however, has facilitated transactions between people on opposite sides of the globe. Barring regulatory issues, gamblers aren't restricted by geography in terms of the social aspects of gaming.
Certain geographic areas have generated more interest in gambling than others. For instance, International Data Corporation, IDC analysts, expect the Asia-Pacific region to reach $30 billion in gambling revenue by 2018. Mobile gaming availability and the popular freemium model serve as key growth drivers, with the strongest interest developing in China, Taiwan, and Korea.
In its infancy, online gambling offered a largely solitary experience. Participants could place bets and collect winnings from their home computers, but they lacked the camaraderie and social connections facilitated by on-property gambling venues. Today, however, social gambling involves venues where participants communicate via in-app instant messaging services as well as voice communication.According to the Gambling Commission, poker is the most popular game in social gambling. Other high-traffic games include bingo, slots, and casino-style games, with poker consuming nearly half of the market share in this sub-industry.
The Commission also notes that the freemium model has increased social gambling's popularity. Users can register for many sites without handing over their credit card information. They can also take part in the games, but only to a limited extent. If they want access to the site's or app's full-featured platform, they have to pay.
StreamingAs technology progresses, online casinos have become steadily more lifelike and immersive. For example, live-dealer casino games bring a human dealer into the game. Participants play in a communal setting, much like they would at an on-property casino, but without actually meeting in person.
Streaming also allows gamblers to watch sporting events, from horse races to football games, and take part in online betting as the sport progresses. Incorporating video with online communication has changed how gamblers interact with one another and how they place their bets.
Skill vs. LuckSome online gaming activities depend purely on chance. Slot games, for example, require no skill on the part of the player. Others need a certain level of logic and strategy. Gamblers who prefer card games, such as poker, can improve their skills and increase their potential income.
Skill-based slot machines — both online and off — have enjoyed a surge in popularity. They combine the skill required for a console video game with the game of chance inherent to most slot machines. In this way, online and offline gaming can influence one another as manufacturers test new projects and fresh technology emerges in the marketplace.
For decades, experts have analyzed the ways in which casino design, layout, and ambiance influences gamblers. Now, design factors play a large part in online gambling platforms. Factors like navigation, advertising, color schemes, sound, video, and player-to-player communication all add to a platform's environmental quality.Even the types of imagery can influence player behavior. For instance, a platform that targets young men might use images of young women to entice participants. Similarly, larger font sizes and more contrast between text and backgrounds could attract older gamblers.
Why Do People Choose Online Gaming?Dr. Mark D. Griffiths of Psychology Today identifies four primary reasons online gaming attracts gamblers:
- Convenience: Players don't have to get dressed, get in their cars, and drive to a casino or other venue. Instead, players can get access to their favorite games no matter where they're located or what device they have on hand. Convenience lends itself to increased gambling activity and a greater sense of control over the environment.
- Increased Value: First, online gamblers don't have to pay for lodging and other travel incidentals if they don't live close to a casino or other gambling venue. Second, many online gambling platforms offer lucrative bonuses and other incentives that can improve winnings. In some cases, users can spend more time playing if they take part in gambling online because of lower costs per game.
- Variety: On the Internet, gamblers aren't limited to the specific games offered at a casino or other venue. They can take part in multiple platforms and access hundreds of gaming options, creating a more engaging activity.
- Anonymity: Despite reducing the gambling-related social stigma, some people still feel self-conscious about their gambling hobbies. When they play online, they don't have to face ridicule or judgment from friends, family members, or strangers.
Offline casinos still attract plenty of enthusiasts, but nobody has to choose between one and the other. The two types of platforms share many gamblers in common who might choose to visit the casino one night, then stay home the next day and gamble through an online platform.
What Does the Future of Online Gambling Look Like?As online gambling matures, many market trends will shift and change. Currently, players between 35 and 40 years of age make up the highest percentage of gamblers in the U.K. market. However, online platforms have targeted millennials and members of other generations to attract fresh demographics, a move that could pay off in the future.
From 2008 to 2014, the number of U.K. citizens between the ages of 18 and 34 who took part in online gaming rose from 10.6 to 17.5 percent. Trends such as smartphone usage, increased security, and improved acceptance have also contributed to increased participation among younger gamblers.
As mentioned earlier, VR experiences have also generated buzz in the online gambling industry. The future virtual casinos could emerge in VR form, with three-dimensional visuals and other sensory input to enhance the experience. Crossovers between different types of gaming could attract new demographics and change the ways gamblers interact with games.
In the future, online gaming platforms will focus on increasing security and improving the user experience. This area is one of the most significant barriers to entry for gambling hobbyists who worry about losing their money due to fraud and other cash-handling issues.
All the World's a Gamble
Both online and offline gambling are subject to market trends that change how, when, where, and why people gamble. As a market trend gains steam, more people take advantage of it, either perpetuating the trend or causing it to lose value.
Indeed, gambling has a direct impact on several economic factors. In terms of total jobs, the American Gaming Commission's Sara Rayme says, "It's actually larger than the airline industry." Gambling generates tax revenue and increases spending in hotels, restaurants, and other venues.