The online gambling market is booming like never before, and for operators who haven’t yet cashed in on the growth of the industry, now is the time! Let’s analyse how the online gambling industry has been affected by the current global pandemic in 2020, and - most importantly - how they can leverage their business strategies to get in on that action!
What’s changed in 2020?
In March 2020, people’s day to day habits and behaviours changed dramatically. With lockdown restrictions in place forcing people all over the world to stay at home, many of the common daily actions have become digitised. In a mere few months, people’s lives were completely overturned. As a global community, we were forced to go digital in nearly every aspect of our lives, including work, shopping, and hobbies.
Although this was a major nuisance for consumers, many businesses could grasp the opportunity to grow their revenue by coming up with new and innovative ways to connect with their customers, meet new demand with more supply, and grow brand loyalty through fantastic user experiences.
Nowhere has this been more apparent than in the online gambling industry.
Good times for online gambling operators
The global pandemic opened up immense opportunities for online gambling businesses as the market became flooded with people with much, much more time on their hands. Whether this was loyal customers, newbies to online gambling, or returning users, the increased amount of free time because of lockdown restrictions has given a massive boost to the industry.
The global online gambling market is expected to grow from its valuation of $58.9 billion in 2019 to $66.7 billion in 2020 at a staggering growth rate of 13.2%.
This growth has been largely attributed by industry experts and forecasters to the coronavirus pandemic, during which populations have been largely confined to home during the lockdown.
The online gambling market comprises of revenue generated by remote gaming activities by means of the internet using desktop and mobile devices and includes gambling establishments who offer to their customer bases games such as online sports betting, online casinos, bingo, lotteries, and poker games, among others.
In addition to the growth in the amount of time spent at home, accelerating technologies are having a large impact on bringing the excitement of the casino floor to people’s homes. Technologies such as Blockchain, IoT, and VR are changing the game helping the world of online gambling in creating an exciting and immersive user experience.
Now let’s talk some GGR numbers:
The UK online gambling market has seen a number of components swell in size this year compared with last year. In March 2020 the total number of bets placed on online slots increased by 25%, virtual betting increased by 40% and online poker increased by 38%.
Gambling revenues from esports saw probably the most significant jump, according to a UK Gambling Commission report; UK betting operators made £50k from esports betting in March 2019. In May 2020, that figure was £4.6m - approx 4% of all sports betting revenues from the UK gambling industry as a whole!
French gross gaming revenue grew 22% year-on-year for Q1 2020 to reach €435m, despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the country’s gambling industry. According to data released by French regulator ARJEL, GGR across online sports betting, horseracing and online poker all increased year-on-year during the first quarter.
In Italy, year-on-year online gambling revenues for March 2020 are up for online poker (increase of 8.9 million euros) and online casinos (increase of 21.4 million euros). Conversely, gambling revenues are down in sports betting (decrease of 35.7 million euros) compared with March 2019 thanks to the cessation of sporting events due to the pandemic.
Overall, Italian online gambling revenue grew by 25.3% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2020, reaching €537m
Compared with the week of January 13th - 19th 2020, visits to online gambling platforms in Spain rose by 44% when compared with the week of April 6th - 12th 2020. Spanish gambling revenue grew 12.5% year-on-year in Q1 2020 according to European Gaming.
Compared with the week of January 13th - 19th 2020, visits to online gambling platforms in Germany rose by 19% when compared with the week of April 6th - 12th 2020, according to Comscore.
The below chart shows the growth in visits to online gambling sites and apps during the first stages of the pandemic:
What must online gambling operators do next to get in on the action?
If you’re part of an iGaming business, you will probably have noticed the recent trends in online traffic. You may ask yourself: is this all over now? Will my revenues drop as the world begins to exit lockdown and return to normal?
The answer is that no, it is not all over at all!
The pandemic is not going to be finished any time soon, and there is still plenty of money to be made for both players and gambling businesses. You need to make sure that you’ve got the right solutions in place to make sure that you continue to attract players with more time on their hands, and as a result, grow your business!
Here are some key strategies that you need to take on board right now to make sure that your online gambling business is successful in 2020 and beyond:
Investing in online gambling products
You need to make sure that your games are up to speed and at the forefront of the market. They need to take into close consideration customer preferences, and you need to make sure that your in-game experiences are thrilling enough to keep players hooked.
Perform regular software audits to make sure that everything is running smoothly, and conduct research into which games are your most popular. Using this data you can then improve the online gambling products and games you offer, as well as investing in new features.
Looking for ways to merge gaming & gambling experiences
One of the keys to success in creating an unbeatable iGaming business is finding the right balance between gaming and profitability; you need to make sure you can blend exciting and interactive games with the chance to win (or lose) money. If you focus too much on one and not the other then you won’t be able to keep customers coming back for more.
To do this, your games need to have gambling at their core - so that gamers keep spending their money in the hope of winning more - but also have a strong gaming element that hooks them in with excitement, visuals, and strategy.
Giving players the feeling of being in control and treated fairly
For online gambling operators, one of the main aspects of the in-game experience that drives players away is the feeling that they are being treated unfairly. It’s essential that you make sure that every player understands that they are in a game of chance, and the results are in no way predetermined.
One way to do this is by giving them a sense of control by putting them at the very heart of the whole gaming experience; show them that they can influence the outcome of the game with their own thoughts and strategies, and they will get the sensation that their skill and gambling prowess are helping to influence the game, and they will see that the game is fair.
Investing in products appealing to audiences under 30
People under 30 are essential for any online gambling business because these are people who have grown up with technology surrounding them, and so it’s second nature for them to be able to connect to online gambling platforms wherever they are, at any time of the day, thanks to mobile phones, games consoles, and laptops.
What’s more, people of this age are generally the most influential and are likely to follow the current trends more than people who are older than them. It’s absolutely vital that you build your gaming platform to appeal to this age group to boost your overall profitability, so make sure that you conduct extensive research into what this age group wants, and then implement it into your online gaming platform.
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