How is the Landscape of Online Gambling Looking in 2020?
The iGaming market remains one of the biggest and fastest-changing entities in the UK and across the globe, but how is the landscape looking in 2020?
14:43 22 June 2020
Across the globe, online gambling is on the rise. In fact, the world’s iGaming market is expected to grow from $58.9 billion to $66.7 billion by the end of 2020, at an annual growth rate of 13.2%.
The iGaming market in the UK remains one of the most lucrative and progressive entities (particularly from a regulatory standpoint), with sites such as https://slots.info even enabling players to identify the best and most reputable casinos in the region.
But how is the $5.3 billion UK market shaping up in 2020, and what should players look out for? Let’s find out!
Slots Continue to Dominate the Market
When online gambling launched in the 1990s, its verticals such as video poker and table games that dominated the space.
This trend has gradually reversed over the course of the last two decades, however, to the point where table games (15.8%) and online poker (5.9%) accounted for barely one-fifth of the iGaming GGY in 2017.
The video poker vertical has also been in decline for several years now, so this market share could dwindle further in the near-term.
Instead, it’s online slots that now dominate the iGaming realm, with nearly two-thirds (64.5%) of the GGY now driven through this vertical. This is a telling and seminal development, and one that is likely to shape the market beyond 2020.
It certainly tells us about the popularisation of iGaming as a whole, with slots often preferred by new or novice gamblers who are looking to wager for the first time. There's a good reason for this too; with low and medium-variance slots offering an average return-to-player (RTP) rate in excess of 96%.
This means that players will recoup at least £0.96 for every £1 wagered on average, enabling players to manage their bankroll with greater efficiency and gamble regularly without losing significant sums of cash.
Of course, players can also access high-variance slots with lower RTP rates and bigger cash prizes, with this proposition extremely appealing to high-rollers or those with exaggerated bankrolls.
There’s also evidence in mature markets that slots are now most popular amongst female players, as developers continue to cater to this audience and create a more diverse range of games.
This trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, creating a scenario where slots may claim a larger share of the iGaming market going forward.
The Rise of Mobile Penetration
You could be forgiven for thinking that smartphones are on the cusp of taking over the world, as they can now be used to carry out a range of tasks from managing your work email to controlling your home heating.
If the statistics are to be believed, smartphones (and to a lesser extent, tablets) are also becoming increasingly influential in the world of online gambling.
The rate of mobile penetration certainly grew exponentially between 2012 and 2018, when the share of revenue generated through mobile devices increased from 18% to a whopping 51%.
This represented a tipping point, as it confirms that more people were wagering through their mobile device than a desktop alternative at the beginning of 2019.
There’s no sign of this trend abating anytime soon, with Newzoo also reporting that the mobile gambling sector will grow to an estimated 59% by the end of 2021.
Not only is the trend dominant and on an upward curve, but it also continues to influence the actions of online casinos and game developers alike.
To this end, the vast majority of games are now powered by responsive HTML5 technology, while a growing number of casinos are now accessible through native mobile apps.
Legal Challenges and Regulatory Issues
If there’s an issue that continues to plague iGaming in the UK, it’s the growing raft of regulatory and legislative changes impacting on operators.
It was back in 2018 that the UK Gambling Commission announced its core strategic objectives through 2021, with the protection of vulnerable players and the enforcement of responsible gambling standards top of this list.
This has placed an increased strain on operators with regards to everything from marketing and advertising to the range of available payment options, while operators have also faced a growing legislative challenge in recent times.
For example, the rate of RGD payable by UK iGaming brands rose by 6% to 21% last year, increasing beyond the threshold in high-growth markets like Spain and Italy. This was imposed to help the Treasury recoup some of its losses following the imposition of the FOBT cap, which impacted the offline gambling sector considerably and caused bookmakers to shed up to 56% of their turnover.
Operators should certainly brace themselves for further regulatory and legislative moves in the near-term, particularly with cross-parliamentary groups currently considering the recommendation of a £2 betting cap in the iGaming space.