How Technology Has Changed the Face of the Global iGaming Industry
21:08 30 October 2019
One of the most popular pastimes that has seen a major improvement thanks to the ever-evolving technological world is gambling. The online world of gambling has become almost as immersive and engaging as playing at your local land-based casino or round a dining table with friends. That’s due in no small part to pioneering advancements in iGaming technology that have given rise to compelling online casino experiences.
It’s therefore little surprise that global iGaming revenues are expected to touch almost $60 billion by the turn of the next decade. iGaming is one of the fastest-growing industries on the planet and the following technologies have helped make this possible.
HTML5 technology: Consistent cross-platform user experiences
HTML5 technology is the latest version of the Hypertext Markup Language. It’s the code that provides the basis for how a webpage or application looks and operates. The now-deceased co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, was criticised for throwing his weight behind the concept of HTML5 as a replacement for Adobe Flash technology. For too long, iGaming platforms had been wedded to browser plug-ins such as Flash and Microsoft Silverlight that were a drain on computing resources. Jobs believed that HTML5 could be a more agile long-term replacement for Flash and he has since been proved right.
In the iGaming industry, where casual gamers are increasingly choosing to use mobiles and tablets to play their favourite slots and table games, HTML5 has been a vital addition for software developers. The conversion of legacy video slots and table games into HTML5 format has meant that iGamers can now get the same casino experience on smartphones and tablets as they would on desktops and laptop gaming monitors. This has resulted in some of the legacy iGaming slots becoming some of the most popular casual games on Android and iOS devices.
High-definition live streaming and optical character recognition (OCR)
One of the biggest sticking points for the iGaming industry in years gone by is that its classic casino table games failed to replicate the look and feel of playing in a bricks-and-mortar casino. Fortunately, rapid advancements in live streaming technology have helped iGaming operators to create authentic live streamed casino experiences. Many operators now have their own live streamed studio where professionally-trained croupiers and dealers manage online games played out on physical tables and wheels within the studio. The clarity of high-definition live streaming has made it possible for players to land on a live casino page and interact with a human dealer and other human players at the table, just as they would in a bricks-and-mortar casino.
To underpin that engaging live dealer casino experience, iGaming platforms have also utilised optical character recognition (OCR) technology to help keep players fully up-to-date with the live table action. Live streamed casino games are heavily reliant on being able to translate the actions of a real-life dealer or croupier into what a player can see on-screen. OCR records all of the live table action which is then translated into code that displays everything from wagers placed to the last run of numbers or colours on the roulette wheel to help players make informed decisions.
Virtual reality: Spawning the next generation of iGaming environments
Already, early indications suggest that iGaming could become even more virtual with the advent of virtual reality (VR). Technavio’s fascinating report on the Global VR Gambling Market for 2018-2022 forecasts that the VR iGaming market will generate compound annual growth of 55% by 2022. The increasing accessibility of VR headsets, both via dedicated devices like the popular Oculus Rift and smartphone headsets, means that iGaming in a virtual world is now a realistic proposition.
There are already a host of video slots that have been developed to be played using VR headsets, with titles such as Jack and the Beanstalk, Starburst and Online Roulette now readily available with some iGaming operators. Whether VR iGaming will outperform live dealer casino games remains to be seen. Players like the appeal of being able to see a human dealer operating their game on-screen, but VR iGaming could provide an additional social element that online casinos simply can’t replicate – face-to-face human interaction with other players in a virtual casino environment.