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ICS‑digital’s Ben Jones: iGaming and the future of entertainment

After hitting £31.23 billion by the end of 2016, the iGaming industry’s total worth is forecasted to reach £57.73 billion by the end of 2020, writes ICS‑digital Marketing Executive Ben Jones.

In the past decade, the world of iGaming has exploded. Since the introduction of new legislation in 2014, the UK’s remote gambling sector alone has increased more than three times, coming in just shy of £5 billion in revenue at the end of last year.

To put it in context, 11% of all global internet traffic now comes from online casino players. There is also a massive difference in growth when compared to other entertainment sectors such as the world of music and film.

In 2017, the money spent on gaming reached £66 billion, which is more than consumers spent on movies (£44 billion) and recorded music (£13 billion) combined.

It would seem a fair assumption to conclude that the meteoric growth of remote gambling in the past decade could be partly due to the decrease in popularity of non-remote gambling outlets, such as betting shops and casinos. However, all such sectors – except bingo halls – have actually seen a moderate increase in popularity and profits despite the success of the remote gambling industry.

This essentially means that the growth of iGaming isn’t due to non-remote users changing to online outlets; quite the contrary, as both remote and non-remote sectors have seen positive numbers. The remote gambling sector not only appeals to those who have never gambled, by being a more convenient and interactive way of gambling, but also to those existing gamblers who are embracing the digital age but still enjoy the experience of visiting non-remote betting outlets.

There is one huge contributing factor to the growth of iGaming over the last ten years; the advancements of mobile technology. As technology improves, connectivity and accessibility also improve. This has allowed users to join online casinos, online bingo halls and place wagers on real and virtual sports from anywhere in the world using a mobile device.

Similarly, gaming has also successfully migrated from console to mobile devices in the last five years, with mobile titles becoming the fastest growing in the industry, making up 43% of the global gaming market at £35.4 billion – which is a huge 19.3% increase on last year.

The average person spends between 30 and 40 hours per week on a mobile device and this number is growing every day, meaning that it is much easier to attract attention for a new game through a mobile device.

More and more developers are concentrating their efforts on mobile-only applications. At one point, mobile apps were an addition to a desktop site, whereas nowadays, more and more companies are creating mobile-only platforms.

Another factor to the growth of iGaming is that online gambling isn’t as restricted by demographics as other gambling and entertainment sectors. For example, older people are becoming much more comfortable with technology, becoming more confident on gambling platforms and handling currency online.

Online gambling is also becoming appealing to more and more younger people. The younger demographic are becoming more interested in gambling and iGaming, especially as many young sports fans avidly place wagers on games and matches.

It is no secret that the younger audience are incredibly tech-savvy, so the idea of getting involved in gambling and wagering – and, most importantly, winning money – without the need to leave the home is very attractive. This, perhaps, allows operators to avoid the perceived negative connotations associated with gambling by the younger generation.

The variety of gambling methods and markets is also playing a large part in the growth of online gambling, with consumers able to bet on more or less any sport on the planet, political outcomes and even famous baby names. This means that there is likely to be an appealing bet for anyone who is interested in placing a wager.

Another important factor to consider is the high increase in female online gamblers. In 2015, the female gambling population accounted for 49% of users in the UK.

Studies have shown that women prefer to gamble in private, often on their mobile device, so that they can play comfortably and confidently and are less likely to be intimidated by male players. Some companies have gone as far as to create female-orientated platforms, such as 888ladies and Pink Casino, to tap into the continuously emerging market.

There is a very strong emotional connection between the user and iGaming, especially when compared to other entertainment sectors. You can’t interact with music or a recorded piece of film, nor can you dictate the journey or outcome.

In iGaming, meanwhile, the player creates the narrative and experiences a journey based on their decisions and skill. They become emotionally invested in the outcome, even more so as they are placing a wager on their own decisions and luck.

The growth of the online gambling market is set to continue and will pick up speed quickly. The advances in mobile technology, mobile connectivity and emerging tech-savvy demographics will all help drive the industry forward.

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