According to an infographic recently released by Right Casino, legalized online gambling is a $35 billion industry. That’s equal to the GDP of Slovenia. Online gambling and online poker are presently legal in 85 countries with a heavy concentration in Europe and the Caribbean.
Internet gambling is beginning to boom in some segments and others are expected to skyrocket in the next few years. Taking a forward-looking view of online poker and the online gambling industry, we present three global gambling trends that are expected to continue over the next several years.
Mobile Gambling Boom Continues
Mobile gambling has often been called the future of gambling and online poker, but the reality is that the future is now. Juniper Research estimates that over $10 billion was wagered via mobile gambling devices in 2013 alone. That’s nearly one-third of the $35 billion online gambling industry.
As the standard PC device is slowly being phased out for the tablet and PC-hybrid devices, it is just a matter of time before mobile gaming becomes the predominate factor in the global gambling industry.
Online poker rooms finally started catching up in recent years but some sites are still lacking basic features that player’s desire. With the increasing popularity of mobile gaming, developers will be forced to provide a mobile experience as close to the PC experience as possible.
Some companies have become proactive and are offering online gambling material exclusive to mobile users to entice players to switch over. Expect more of these types of innovations over the next few years.
Expect Continued Consolidation of Industry
One major theme in both online poker and online gambling over the last few years has been consolidation. Bwin and PartyPoker merged and now are on the verge of being sold to GVC. Paddy Power purchased Betfair and Ladbrokes is purchasing Gala Coral. Even PokerStars was sold to Amaya in 2014, albeit for entirely different reasons. The point is that the industry is consolidating and that trend is likely to continue over the next few years.
Look at the number of online poker networks followed by PokerScout and you can get an idea of the reason behind consolidation. The boom of online poker and internet gambling has resulted in saturation. In recent years, new site success such as that of Right Casino has been rare. Rather, we have seen profits steadily decline as some operators struggle to gain new players and keep existing players at the tables.
Even the American regulated market has experienced difficulty. Ultimate Gaming opened in Nevada and New Jersey in 2013 and failed to stay open a year. BetFair Poker opened in 2013 in New Jersey and couldn’t draw enough traffic to fill a Sit & Go. The company ultimately moved operations over to Golden Nugget and discontinued their poker room to focus on their casino.
The United States Slowly Regulates Online Gambling
Thanks to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, the processing of online gambling transactions is illegal in the United States. The exceptions are in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey. These states have legalized online poker and several others have explored regulation at one time or another since 2006.
The next states expected to legalize iPoker are California and Pennsylvania. Other states including Illinois, New York, Iowa, West Virginia and others are expected to do so in the future.
Unfortunately, the expansion of regulated online poker will be slow. Morgan Stanley has estimated that online poker would be available in 20 states by 2020 but there been little evidence to back this claim. Realistically, we could see 2-5 more states online by 2020, with the rest online by 2025 or even later.
Please keep in mind that the above predictions could change drastically should online poker and iGaming expand quicker in certain regions such as South America, Canada, and the United States. For now, expect continued growth and consolidation as the rest of the world slowly hops on board the iGaming bandwagon.