Online gambling includes casino, poker, and sports betting through internet and is increasingly becoming the new face of gambling industry. The online casino market is expected to register phenomenal growth over the next four years to 2024. Though estimates vary considerably about the current size of the global casino business, according to the leading market research company IBIS World, global casinos and online gambling industry registered a massive turnover of $268 bn in 2019. It employed over 1.5 million people in 5,186 businesses worldwide.
However, yet another market report called Gambling Market—Global Outlook and Forecast puts the revenue from the casino business worldwide at $525 billion by 2023.
According to another market research company Market Watch, the online gambling sector is expected to post a combined annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.8% over the five-year period to 2024.
According to Statista, the global online gambling market is worth $60 billion annually and is all set to see robust growth and post $94.4 billion in revenue by 2024, growing more than double from $45.8 billion in 2017.
Though data varies significantly, all market reports suggest a robust growth for the global casino business, and more so for online casinos. According to these reports, the projected high growth rate for the global casino business is in line with growth trends in the global online gambling business.
Though most gambling operators are relying on third parties for software and online gambling products, some leading companies are also resorting to backward integration to prevent dependence on suppliers.
As most of the online gambling operators offer identical services, there is a fierce competition among them, which finally boils down to pricing and marketing activities.
- A merger between Betfair and Paddy Power Paddy led to the emergences of Power Betfair (PPB) in 2016.
- PPB further acquired US gambling operator FanDuel in 2018.
- Similarly, Ladbrokes and coral merged to become Ladbrokes Coral.
Top online gambling firms (2017)
- Paddy Power Betfair (Ireland): $ 10 billion
- International Game Technology (US): $ 5.5 billion
Factors leading the charge
Technology: There are many factors propelling the growth of online casinos, the foremost being the adoption of new technologies that make it possible for online casinos to offer betting opportunities to an ever-growing number of gamblers regardless of the geographical boundary of either the gaming sites or the gamblers.
Rise in Income: Dual income households with rising per capita income and an ever-growing number of women gamblers are fuelling this trend. Cashless transactions and ease in international payment systems have also contributed significantly to the growth of online betting worldwide.
Powerful Software: The latest round of growth in the business of online casinos is spearheaded by software developers who are bringing cutting-edge technologies to the business by creating highly interactive and entertaining games as well as powerful gaming platforms and business solutions, making the transformation of individual casinos into global online casinos possible. This has significantly augmented the online betting businesses worldwide giving rise to a large number of big and medium-sized businesses in this sector.
Among the leading players in this sector include Paddy Power Betfair, 888 Holdings PLC, William Hill PLC, Ladbrokes Coral Group, Bet365, Las Vegas Sands Corp, Galaxy Entertainment Group, MGM Resorts International, AsianLogic, and The Star Group.
Online Casinos vs Sports Betting
On the first glance, online casinos appear to be leading the online gambling business worldwide but in reality, it is the sports betting that is at the top slot. A major reason for this is the evolution of mobile technologies, especially iOS and Android platforms that make it possible for an ever-growing number of gamblers to engage in sports betting from the comfort of their homes. Another reason for sports betting piping online casinos in market share is the immense popularity of some of the world’s biggest sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup. People hooked to these games often take to betting to make their preferences make money for them.
Liberalized business environment
This rising the trend of online gambling has also got a major boost from the favourable legal and business environment in many important markets such as the US, Canada, Australia, South East Asian countries, among others. In a significant development, the Supreme Court of America legalized online betting in the US in 2018. Now, it is up to individual states to frame laws and allow online gambling in their respective states. Some of the states have already passed such laws in their assemblies legalizing online gambling. If more states pass similar laws, the online betting market in the US can grow to become the largest in the world. Similarly, laws have been enacted in Canada, Australia and many Southeast Asian countries that make gambling, particularly online casinos, a legal business. Some of the countries like UK, Australia, Singapore and China have been trying to create an environment for more responsible gambling practices. They are especially wary of gambling turning into an addiction for their population.
Online Casinos in the US
Much before casinos arrived in other countries, Las Vegas in the US had acquired a legendary status as a gambling destination popular among international tourists. The US has been the center of legal casino gambling since 1931. Later, New Jersey and Atlanta City also joined Las Vegas in popularity for their casino and other gambling options. As per the latest market reports, the sector employs 750,000 people and contributes about $138 billion to the US economy each year.
Now, with the advent of online casinos, this form of gambling has become even popular than it ever was. New Jersey tops in regulated online gambling among all other states in the US.
A major boost to the online gambling business in the US came in 2018 when the Supreme Court of the United States struck down Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) enacted by the federal government that banned sports betting in the entire country but for the Nevada state. The Supreme Court ruling allowed individual states to bring in legislative reforms and allow legal online gambling businesses including online casinos.
While some states have already enacted such laws and allowed on online gambling in their respective jurisdiction, more states are expected to follow suit though some states are lukewarm in their response. As of now, there are three states that offer legal casino gaming facilities — Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania while online poker facilities are legal in Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. However, more states in Midwest and East coast such as New York, South Carolina, Michigan, West Virginia, and Kentucky have new bills seeking to legalize online gambling in these states.
An important aspect of online gambling in the US is that federal law does not make it illegal for people to engage in online gambling. It forbids unlicensed gambling companies to operate from its land.
Though online casinos are fast replacing brick and mortar casino gambling, traditional gambling destinations such as Las Vegas, Reno, and Atlantic City are still leading the pack of most-visited gambling destinations across the US. However, looking at the growing revenue that this sector generates for the economy, many more stats are now opening up to the idea and promoting casino gaming, both online and offline versions. States such as Louisiana, Philadelphia, Mississippi, Missouri, and Connecticut are fast catching up with the trend and emerging as major centers of casino gambling.
Native American gaming, or the tribal casinos as they are more popularly known as is big business in the Wisconsin state, where some of the top casinos, such as Ho-Chunk, boast over 2,000 slot machines. The tribal casinos are believed to be generating $500 million annually.
Pennsylvania which is the second-largest casino center in the country with an annual turnover of $3.2 billion in 2017 has passed a new law to expand its casino business from existing 12 gambling halls to 10 more in satellite locations that is at least 25 miles from the existing gambling halls. Each of these new casinos can have as many 750 slot machines and 30 table games.
Online Casinos in Australia
Australians are considered to be one of the most gambling-loving people in the world. As per reports, average Australians lost $1000 in 2016-17 in different gambling activities. Though online casinos are not illegal in the country, their operations are very limited.
Since it brought a law to ban offshore gambling operators in 2017, the country has banned at least 90 gambling sites so far, the latest being 9 sites in January 2020. After complaints against these sites, the Australian government authorities had advised Australian players to withdraw their funds from these online gambling sites looking at an imminent ban on them.
However, there is a renewed demand from some sections of the Australian lawmakers to legalize online casino sector, which is considered to be worth $4 billion annually.
Australians’ average gambling spends put them ahead of their counterparts in Singapore and the Western countries. Ever since online casinos made their appearance in the country in 2001, the government made it illegal to publicize these businesses on the country’s TV, radio, and online networks. In general, Australian laws are strict against gambling.
However, these laws became all the tougher with the introduction of the Interactive Gambling Bill that sought to regulate online casinos more stringently. This ultimately boiled down to a very limited number of online casinos available to Australian citizens. The authorities maintain that the government’s objective is not to ban online gambling but to stop illegal companies from operating from the country and targeting Australian citizens.
On the whole, the online casino business is likely to grow in the country with companies more readily embracing the country’s strict legal framework for them to operate.
Online Casinos in Canada
Online casinos in Canada are allowed to run their operations only from Kahnawake Mohawk territory, which is considered to be an offshore territory of the country. Except for this, online casino gambling is largely an unregulated activity. Though the economic recession has impacted its business in the early years of the last decade, the revenues from the casino business crossed $5 billion by 2017, online casinos being a major contributor. There has been a consistent rise in the number of Canadian gamblers after the adoption of mobile gambling means by the casino industry. This has also meant a gradual closing down of brick and mortar casinos.
Riding high on the adoption of advanced internet and gaming technologies, Canada’s gambling industry posted a massive C$17 billion in revenues in 2017.
A major turn in Canada’s gambling scene came in 1985 when many of the gambling activities were legalized, giving the power to states to enact suitable laws to regulate gambling businesses in their territories. This has given rise to different sets of laws governing gambling businesses in the country. However, due to unregulated nature of online gambling activities, a huge 72% of adult Canadian nationals are believed to be using one or the other online gambling options.
Online Casinos in the UK
The UK is one of the most important gambling markets worldwide where gambling is regarded as a part of the established tradition. However, various social groups in the country have been criticizing the increasing gambling habits that they think has reached an alarming level, almost to an addiction.
As per the latest industry statistics released by UK Gambling Commission, the total revenue from the gambling industry during 2018-19 was down 0.3% to $18.billion compared to the previous year. The number of people employed in the UK’s gambling industry was also down 5.5% to 102,782 during the same period.
Online gambling has consistently risen in popularity in the UK since its legalization in 2005 to over 17% in 2018, accounting for 34% of the country’s entire gambling market.
However, in the recent years, the UK Gambling Commission has taken measures to weed out irresponsible gambling practices resulting in a slowdown in the industry. In the latest move, the market regulator has banned the use of credit card to pay for online gambling with effect from April 14, 2020, and warned the online casinos to cancel their licenses if they were found to be violating this provision.
According to UK’s banking and finance sources, 22% of the online gamblers who pay with their credit cards are classed as problem gamblers.
A new gambling age-verification rule for online gambling came into force in 2019 that made the business of gambling operators more difficult by asking them to verify the name, address, and date for birth before allowing the gamblers to play.
Stepping up its campaign for better compliance of the rules, the market regulator grossed 10 times more in penalties at $23.8 million from UK gambling operators in 2018, compared to $2 million in 2017.
Though verification of gambles at UK online casinos has shown an increase of about 28%, these outlets are now increasingly seeking overseas customers to remain viable.
Online casinos account for 32% of online gambling in the European Union. UK is one of those European countries that allow most of the online gaming options including online casinos and poker. In 2017-18, total revenue from all gambling activities in the UK stood at $17.9 billion, with online gambling being the top contributor at $6 billion.
The gambling industry has grown rapidly in some of the leading Southeast Asian counties such as Singapore, the Philippines, China, and Vietnam in the last decade, with more casinos opening up or in the pipeline and greater revenue earning. The trend has apparently been triggered by the rise and prominence of Macau as a premier gambling destination in the region, where gambling contributes 50% to its economy.
According to experts at leading business rating agencies, Southeast Asian countries Singapore, Australia, South Korea, and the Philippines registered over 40% rise in revenue from gambling activities compared to 14% by Macau.
Vietnam: The Vietnamese government has recently made online gambling legal in the country by overturning a court ruling. Van Don and Phu Quoc have emerged as new casino investment destinations in the country. Besides, the country has over $5 billion of investments lined up for its casino gambling sector.
Singapore: In all these countries, the casino scene is becoming more and more dynamic and vibrant. A key tourist attraction in Singapore, Marina Bay Casino was reported to be ramping up its operations by increasing the workforce manifold. However, the Singapore government has been concerned over reports of gambling turning into an addiction for a growing number of its people. Consequently, it has enacted laws that make it mandatory for the gambling operators in the county to bar the entry of local Singaporeans.
The Philippines: The Philippines has given permits to a large number of offshore companies to run casino gambling operations in the country, which has seen a significant rise in the numbers of Chinese workers with the required skills to immigrate to The Philippines. This has led to Chinese gamblers turning to the casinos in the Philippines and the illicit outflow of Yuan from China. The revenue for freshly augmented casino business in the country is likely to touch $200 million by 2020.
Japan: The latest and most significant player in the emerging casino business in Southeast Asia is Japan where three highly ambitious integrated casino projects worth $22.5 are under consideration of the government and may be ready for operation by 2025. These projects have evoked a keen interest in the country among the leading gambling business operators.
China: China holds the top slot among the most important markets in Southeast Asia. Despite little government encouragement, the online gambling market in China grew in 2018, indicating the huge potential that remains untapped. Over the next decade when gambling laws are expected to become laxer in the country, gambling businesses including online casinos are expected to increase their footprints significantly. In the last decade, much of the gambling businesses have shifted to China, particularly to Macau, from their erstwhile strongholds in the US.
Online Casinos are one of the most popular forms of online gambling options available today. This new version of the old casinos operating from fancy brick and mortar outlets has the potential to grow beyond the borders and become big businesses. Consequently, there are large numbers of online casinos offering their services to an international clientele. The good news for the industry is that the gambling sites are set to grow over the next five years at a high CAGR of 8% or more. This prediction is based on the growing trend of the governments opening up the online gambling market to tap the revenue that it can generate for their respective economies.
Contributing to these growth, predictions are a number of new markets which have shown appetite for both old-time physical casinos and modern-day online casinos. Significant among these new markets are economies which have seen high growth rate in the past decade, giving rise to a new class of neo-rich who are as comfortable playing online casinos as the previous generation was with physical casinos. The rise of China, Singapore, Japan, Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia as new and promising centers of gambling business indicates that the market is about to start growing up to its full potential. The prediction by some market research companies that the global gambling business is poised to become $525 billion by 2023 and the online gambling business becoming $ 94 billion annually looks realistic and achievable.
Despite some reservations in some countries like India, which does not allow its citizens to take part in online gambling, the overall growth prospect for online casinos in particular and online gambling in general looks positive. This is mainly because the online gambling scene has caught up with new clients both from emerging and established economies. With the passage of time, regulatory frameworks are increasingly becoming more favorable for online casino gambling. Another good sign is that the leading players in the industry are going in for mergers and acquisitions that would ultimately pave the way for companies with stronger financial and technical capabilities to lead the industry. A major reason contributing to the consistent rise in the popularity of online casinos is the adoption of newer and more advanced technologies, which made the games more entertaining and accessible to an even bigger size of the audience. This trend is likely to continue over the next 10 years.