With online sports betting growing rapidly in the United States thanks to a Supreme Court case that changed the interpretation of the laws that governed it, the iGaming industry is set to more than double its value by the end of the new decade.
In 25 years, the industry has gone from a group of primitive websites to a $50 billion industry that’s dominated by some major publicly traded entities. Current estimates predict it will surpass $90 billion by 2024 and $100 a few years later.
What is iGaming
iGaming is a term that covers most forms of online wagering, including sports betting, lotteries, bingo, blackjack, poker, roulette and slot games. It helps to provide a distinction between the traditional offline operators of these games, who are often referred to as “gaming” companies.
iGaming is also different to video gaming since the products are typically monetised in different ways, although the lines have been blurring slightly in recent years.
The First $50 Billion
To understand how the iGaming industry is likely to grow over the next decade, it helps to understand what helped it thrive over the last 25 years.
iGaming started out in 1994 when legislation was passed by the government of Antigua and Barbuda that allowed for online casinos to operate from its jurisdiction. Around a year later, the first online casinos began to emerge, with hundreds springing up shortly after.
At around the same time, Microsoft was launching its Windows 95 operating system, selling 40 million copies in just one year and helping many consumers get connected to the internet for the first time. This was accelerated by AOL who marketed its dial-up internet services aggressively through CD-ROMS mailed to households across the Americas and Europe.
This made it possible for millions of players from around the world to enjoy casino games from the comfort of their own homes.
Online casinos fought hard to attract customers to their services over a competitor, offering generous free bets and other bonuses as an incentive. Since most casinos offer the same games, these bonuses are one of just a few ways that they can compete. The tactic is still used today with many offering free spins to new players without having to make a deposit.
Widespread smartphone adoption in the early 2010s helped iGaming companies reach whole new markets in regions where wired internet was not practical. They were also able to expand existing markets since playing games on mobile devices was more convenient, attracting casual gamers.
Smartphones helped sportsbook brands to grow as well. The technology meant that sports fans could place bets on games from wherever, meaning they could bet during games while watching on TV at home or in person at a stadium.
Competition in this market is also strong, with brands spending millions each year to sponsor teams and leagues, as well as show ads on TV during sports coverage. This has helped sports betting grow to about 40% of all iGaming revenue, up from around 32% in 2015.
The Next $50 Billion
The growth that will lead iGaming to become a $100 billion industry will not come from one source, in fact all areas are enjoying growth. This doesn’t look like it will change any time soon either as existing markets continue to grow and new ones open up.
Sports betting is likely to be one of the biggest growth areas, particularly in the United States. The US market is well accustomed to betting on sports, but before 2018 it had to be done in the state of Nevada.
As more states legislate to allow online sports betting within their borders, millions more Americans will partake. Just a month after the Supreme Court ruling in 2018, residents of New Jersey had wagered $250 million on sports games online, while Nevada saw more than twice that.
Esports betting is beginning to grow as well. In 2019, around $8 billion was wagered on esports competitions, with figures expected to increase exponentially in the coming years. Especially as events get more coverage on traditional TV networks.
Existing markets are continuing to grow too. More than half of the teams in the English Premier League have iGaming sponsors, generating around £350 million of revenue. This has been growing at a rate of around 7% per year for the past decade.
Many bookmakers also operate online casinos and undertake a lot of cross-promotion in the hopes of converting players between the two, boosting retention and increasing revenue.
Casinos and Poker
Although sports betting has seen significant growth in recent years, casinos and poker continue to be the biggest driver of revenue.
There are reportedly more than 2 million people in the UK alone that play online casino games, with many more across Europe. It’s in this region that online casino games are the most popular, with fierce competition between brands.
Online casino revenues are expected to reach €20 million ($22.3 million) in 2020 alone, and will likely continue growing. This accounts for around 22% of the total global market.
Surprisingly, the Asian market is the second largest, despite many countries not permitting their citizens to bet online (or at all). This to is expected to grow by 7% in 2020 alone, as casinos slowly become more accepted in certain cultures.
While it is not certain more changes will come in the US or Asian market, the outlook for iGaming is positive overall and looks set to double in value by 2030.