Gambling has shifted and evolved throughout the decades to remain relevant and meet the demands of a changing demographic of players.
Since 2010 though, the industry has undergone more change and evolution than at any other point in its history.
In the UK, the gambling industry has evolved from an economic pigmy into a financial powerhouse as it has in many countries across the globe.
In this article we take a look at some of the factors that have been key in gambling’s growth since 2010. We will start with the most obvious and by far the most influential factor…
The Rise of the Internet
The world’s very first internet casino was launched back in 1996, but 10 years on from that date if you had asked the average person to describe an online casino, they would have struggled.
That’s because those first online casinos were clunky, hard to use and available exclusively to those with access to a PC and a working internet connection – two things that were not a given back in 1996 or 2006.
In 2010 though, people were slowly beginning to get used to living their lives with the influence of the internet. BBC iPlayer, which had been launched 3 years previously was beginning to catch on as were other popular online platforms like Instagram.
It was at this time that a lot of today’s biggest names in internet gambling began to invest heavily in their online software.
With more people accustomed to using the internet as a means of entertainment, online gambling had much more success than it did back in 1996 when it was first launched.
The Rise of Mobile Devices
In the year 2008 around 70% of UK households reported to own at least 1 mobile phone, but only 17% of the population had access to a smartphone.
In 2010, just 3 years after Steve Jobs announced the release of the first ever iPhone, many more people in the UK had jumped aboard the smartphone hype train.
By then iPhone’s were cheaper and more accessible and there was a good range of Android alternatives on the market to choose from.
Over the course of the last decade, smartphones have become increasingly linked to the growth of the online gambling market. At the beginning of the teens many online gambling providers were slow to react to the growth of smartphones.
When they should perhaps have been focusing on creating engaging mobile gambling apps, they were instead focusing on the desktop version of their sites.
Then, around 2015 the industry finally reacted to the rise of the smartphone with many top names investing heavily in their mobile apps. Since that customer numbers of online casinos have risen in line with the increase in usage of smartphones.
In 2018, industry statistics showed that 72% of people in the UK used their mobile phone as their primary internet source with 82% of gamblers saying they preferred to gamble on their phone rather than in person or on PC’s and laptops.
At that time, the amount of people registered to gamble online in the UK reached an all-time high with 33.6 million active accounts recorded. Without the rise of the smartphone and the belated focus on mobile technology from gambling companies these numbers would have been unheard of.
It isn’t just here in the UK where online gambling has been on the rise since 2010, it’s also flourishing all around the world.
In the UK we tend to look at online gambling from a privileged viewpoint, as it has been legalised here for some time we tend to take that for granted.
Elsewhere, in other parts of the world online gambling has not had as straightforward an evolution. In the USA for example, it was nearly impossible to place a legal sports bet online in 2010 or to play blackjack with your friends remotely.
The process of legalising online gambling only took its first tentative steps in the US back in 2013 when the states of New Jersey and Nevada took the decision to launch their own iGaming and poker sites.
Since then a swathe of American states have followed suit, but the act of online gambling remains illegal at a federal level.
This means that it is up to individual states to decide whether or not they allow their citizens to gamble online, at the time of writing online gambling in some form is legal in 16 American states.
Whilst that may not seem like a lot, it does represent real progress from 2013 and it has resulted in a huge upturn in online gambling revenues. Last year for example, the remote sector brought in an estimated $66.67 billion.
In the years to come, more and more states look set to follow the lead of New Jersey and Nevada. When they do, expect big changes as the biggest online gambling providers hope to help the US become the world centre of the trade.
The gambling industry has undergone radical changes since 2010, many of which have led to it becoming more popular with players and more profitable for investors.
Across the globe there are a myriad of varied reasons to explain this growth, but the biggest catalysts behind gambling’s success since 2010 have been the rise of the internet and the rise of the smartphone.
Without the increase in people using the internet and the adoption of smartphones, it’s hard to envisage a world in which gambling would be as popular as it is.
Whilst astute decisions have been made on the part of savvy online gambling companies, it’s fair to say that in the past 11 years that gambling has benefitted from a perfect storm of circumstances.