Since 1998, when the first online poker room went live, online gambling has come astronomically far. The European online gambling market is, on average, growing by about 10% per year, a rate much faster than land-based alternatives.
Today all major markets have online casinos, and the sophistication and diversity of the games they offer is unrecognisable by late 90s standards. Players can benefit from bonuses, play in live dealer rooms against players from around the globe, and win jackpots bigger than any European lottery.
Reasons for the Rapid Growth in EU Gambling Market
With projected compound annual growth rates of 9.2% over the next five years, the European gambling market does not appear to be slowing down. And, whilst the impacts of Covid-19 have been quite severe for land-based bookmakers and casinos – with around a 23% fall in gross European-wide revenue – the online market has continued to flourish as a consequence of the increased online activity.
One of the major factors driving the growth of the EU gambling market has been better and more sophisticated legal regulation. Many EU nations introduced online gambling regulations in the early 2000s, which gave customers confidence in the legitimacy of the markets they were wagering in, and clear paths for organisations to grow.
In addition to this, the responsible gambling legislation also helped usher in a sense of legitimacy and security which, in turn, allowed for online gambling to be seen as mainstream and acceptable. The acceptability of it allowed for massive increases in gambling advertisements, which, naturally, lead to increases in player numbers. Nevertheless, there remain partial bans in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Lithuania – where 52% of active gamblers think there should be an outright advertisement ban.
Many sites have been operating online since the early 2000s, but all of these sites required you to play on a desktop or laptop computer. This was a reasonable way to play for seasoned gamblers, but it severely limited the uptake in new players.
However, after the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, and the subsequent boom and acceleration of smartphone development, many more Central European players were introduced to online gambling. Online mobile gambling made gaming online easy. Anyone could do it from the comfort of their sofa, or on their tram ride to work. 45% of online gambling revenue came from mobile devices in 2020, and by 2022 this is predicted to pass the 50% mark.
Since then, the next biggest accelerator of online gambling has been the enhancement of graphics and design. The pixel-perfect game designs now have high-definition graphics, and all games look better than anything you could have played on a console 15 years ago.
The development in graphics also led to the development of better games. If designers could now have more screen room (thanks to bezel-less screens) and better image quality, then they have a better canvas upon which to develop their games. And, as the games themselves have got better, this has, in turn, increased the number of players using them. By 2025, it is projected that 58% of all European online gambling will be done via a high-definition smartphone.
Enhanced Reality Casinos
Technological advancement doesn’t end with better graphics. One of the currently developing trends is virtual reality and augmented reality casino software.
Augmented reality casinos will allow players to superimpose the games they’re playing into their environment, so that they can inhabit a mixture of the ‘real world’ populated with ‘virtual objects’.
These mixed reality environments will allow players to combine the comfort of their own homes with the excitement of the casino, turning their familiar everyday setting into a casino floor. Imagine, for example, that players’ coffee tables were transformed into roulette wheels, and sat next to them on the sofa were the other punters.
There nevertheless remain some barriers to progress, the least of which is the widespread use of the correct tech. Depending on the level of sophistication, different forms of enhanced reality will take time. Simple Pokémon Go-style virtual objects view on phone screens are right around the corner, as Central European players simply need a smartphone for this. But, complex systems including tactile feedback surround sound immersion will need much more sophisticated tech, which may never end up in people’s homes.
Whilst there has been an undeniable growth in Central Europe, the largest growth by far hasn’t been there. No, it has been in the UK. The UK has the largest number of online casinos in any other country. The rise in online casino UK sites like Platin Casino, is due to many factors, but principally to the well-organised legislation (thanks to the United Kingdom Gambling Commission) that regulates the market, along with gambling being legal there for a long time.