THERE’S no doubt that digital gambling is seeing a rise in popularity, not just in the UK but around the world.
Between April 2019 and March 2020, online gambling became the largest contributor to the UK gambling sector, accounting for 40% of the market. According to the UK’s Gambling Commission, this translated to a Gross Gambling Yield of £5.7bn for that period.
Since then, the popularity of digital gambling compared to stationary casinos has become even more prominent.
Here, we’ll explore why this is happening and answer why online casinos are gaining more market share than brick-and-mortar establishments.
Digital Gambling vs Stationary Casinos
The UK gambling market is divided into three types and two platforms. The types of gambling are betting, lottery, and casino (which includes both table games and slot games). As for the platforms, they are online (digital) and offline (stationary casinos).
Online gambling is gambling that takes place remotely. It largely occurs in people’s homes via smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. Offline gambling takes place in a physical, brick-and-mortar establishment.
There are pros and cons to each type of gambling and platform. However, the online sector has seen incredible growth in the market over the last year, showing an increasing consumer preference.
Below, we explore some of the reasons for this shift.
One of the most significant factors in the growth of online gambling is that online casinos are not as heavily regulated. For years, digital gambling sites and stationary casino establishments have been operating under different sets of rules.
Two significant restrictions that have disadvantaged physical casinos are betting limits and the permitted number of machines. While online casinos can host however many games they like, physical operators have been limited to 20 machines per establishment.
Similarly, while stationary casinos were subject to fixed-odds betting at terminals, online casinos had no betting limits. However, some politicians are trying to change this. For the last couple of years, the UK government has been updating online gambling laws that were unchanged for nearly two decades.
Smartphones Make Digital Gambling Easier
There’s no doubt that the popularity of smartphones has changed our lives in many ways. Gambling is just one area where this advancement has made a huge difference.
In fact, the prevalence of smartphone use in online gambling is among the main reasons cited for overhauling the current regulations. The last time laws were made regarding online gambling, smartphones didn’t exist.
According to a UK Gambling Commission survey, half of all online gambling is done on a smartphone. This is even more popular among the 18-to-34-year-old demographic, which has been a key population for growth. In this group, three-quarters of gamblers are using smartphones.
The convenience of online gambling far outweighs the effort required for a trip to a physical casino for younger populations. If gamblers just want to play a quick game, online gambling will win out every time.
Highly Competitive Online Space
The lack of regulations and relative ease of starting an online casino has made it an incredibly attractive space for many investors. This has only become truer as the popularity of digital gambling has continued to grow.
These are just a few of the factors that have created an immensely competitive market in the online casino space. And it seems that customers appreciate the variety and choice available online. According to the UK Gambling Commission, the average online gambler has accounts with three online casinos. Many younger gamblers have even more.
Online casinos have made entering the gambling space easier for both operators and gamblers. Instead of the capital required to build and maintain a physical casino, operators are turning online. There are now quite a few big names in the online gambling industry. Additionally, smaller online casinos are constantly being bought up by competitors.
However, forecasts do predict that stationary casinos aren’t quitting anytime soon. With big players promising to revolutionise the industry in the coming years, things are sure to get competitive in the stationary market.
As is the case with anything digital, the rapid advancement of technology helps drive innovation and improve the product. Digital gambling is no different.
The last decade or two has seen much advancement in the availability and offerings of online casinos. However, there has been less innovation in stationary casinos, with much of their offerings remaining the same. For many years, online gambling has seemed like an exciting new option compared to traditional brick-and-mortar casinos.
However, this may change soon. AI and VR technology advancements may place the two platforms on equal footing again.
Pandemic Kept People Indoors
There can be no mention of online gambling growth without the context of what happened worldwide in and since 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying restrictions on public spaces kept many people indoors.
This meant that stationary casinos could not welcome guests and that many people were looking for new hobbies. Online gambling was a huge draw for many bored people stuck indoors with nothing else to do.
Just as COVID-19 has changed so much about our lives, it is also partially responsible for the shift in consumer behaviour regarding gambling.
There are many reasons that online gambling has taken over so much of the gambling market in the UK. Even as new regulations and competition from the offline market are expected, digital gambling shows no signs of slowing.