Whatever your business does, knowing what direction your industry is heading in is a key to planning for the future, and the casino and gambling business is no different. For the last 11 years, Spectrum Gaming Group – which is an independent research and market analysis firm – has published an annual report which reveals the top trends that the casino industry can expect in the next 12 months. This week sees the publication of the 21 top casino trends to expect in 2015, and it makes for interesting reading for industry professionals and players alike.
These trends cover the entire casino industry, but some of them are particularly interesting for those of us concerned with the online and mobile markets. I’ve picked out three of the trend predictions which I find – and think you’ll find – most promising. Predictions 10, 14 and 19 all include stuff that online and mobile gamblers should be taking notice of, so let’s explore them.
10. The convergence of gaming will continue, with casinos, lotteries, i-gaming, social games, and bingo offering products that cross into the others' traditional space.
In my opinion, this is the prediction I think is the most exciting, and not least because included in it is more than a bit of a nod to online and mobile gaming’s influence and future in the casino industry.
The first implication I think we can read into this is how innovative technologies are allowing for games makers and casinos to create brand new titles which are either fusions of traditional game modes, or brand new forms of gaming altogether. Slots, for instance, have for a long time had ‘feature games’ which frequently borrow game style from other forms of gambling, but in the last few months we’ve seen the true advent of fusion slots, and it’s great to know that this looks to continue in the future.
The second implication I read in this comment is the idea that online and mobile gaming is driving the need for traditional gambling to change its culture. No one wants to see the complete death of the bricks and mortar casino, but there’s no bad thing in a little competition spawning some interesting innovation. If online and mobile gaming create a space where older gaming modes diversify, I think everyone will come out a winner – not least us players.
14. The growth of Internet gambling will continue to tread water. However, more countries will move to approve Internet lotto sales and develop new types of online and mobile games in 2015.
This one pretty much speaks for itself, so I won’t talk for too long about it. Despite the UK having enjoyed legal and regulated mobile gambling for quite some time now, there are still swathes of the world where online and mobile gambling is still illegal.
This has various adverse effects on those who want to gamble using computers or smartphones, and even worse on those who choose to flout the laws and do so in spite of the illegality of it. Firstly, people who would otherwise be able to access casinos are denied the choice to enjoy a fun pastime which millions of others partake in legally every day.
But worse than the frustration of not being able to play is the fact that many people living in prohibition countries are driven to playing at illegal, unlicensed, and therefore unregulated online or mobile casinos. At such sites, there is no telling where your money is going, if your deposits are safe, or whether you’ll ever see a payout on your winnings. While slots are certainly worth playing in the UK, elsewhere in the world, you're almost certainly on to a loser.
The only way to create a safe gambling environment is to legalise and then regulate gambling sites, and it’s promising to here that it’s likely more countries will be taking this step in the coming year.
19. More gaming operators and suppliers will acquire social gaming companies and capabilities as they seek to engage millennials as the future generation of gamblers. At the same time, game developers and gaming operators will accelerate efforts to turn social games into gambling games.
This forecast is fascinating, as it shows the awareness of the ‘long game’ not only over the coming year, but even further into the future of the casino industry; and that future rather looks like being mobile.
The tendency towards online and mobile gaming has obviously not gone unnoticed for the last few years – and the results of the recent EGR Awards demonstrated the industry's love of social gaming – but as far as I’m aware that’s always been attributed to advances in technology, and the superior convenience that offered. To look at the necessity for better development of online and mobile games from the angle of a more youthful market with new needs and wants is a pretty extraordinary idea.
Does this mean the future of gaming looks like slots which work on the same game physics as angry birds?!