How the 5 biggest consumer tech trends will shape the internet gambling sector (2017 -2020)
Virtual Reality (VR) VR is perhaps the buzziest thing in online gambling today. With major developers like Microgaming and NetEnt investing heavily in this channel and VR casinos like SlotsMillion offering full, immersive experiences, many see it as the next industry-defining trend.
Juniper estimates VR wagers will rise a staggering 800% between now and 2021, with an increasing number of ‘high rollers’ keen to use the technology. The same study suggests that these bets will total USD520 million, a huge increase on the USD58.5 million worth of bets made through the channel in 2016.
But how likely is VR to truly reshape the landscape, in the manner of mobile and live dealer gaming?
CAPTURING THE MILLENNIAL MARKET
Millennials, meaning those who reached adulthood around the year 2000, now make up 50% of the global workforce. Digital natives who are entirely comfortable with all forms of consumer tech, they are an obvious target for online gambling companies as they enter their prime spending years. And, with the UK Gambling Commission recently estimating that the number of 18-34 year olds participating in gambling at around 18% (up from 10% in 2008), millennial interest in the sector is growing.
Millennial buyers have a preference for immersive experiences over products. They enjoy games of skill rather than games of pure luck and they are curious about new technologies.
Of the 171 million people forecast to be using VR by 2018, the vast majority will be from this demographic.
All of this suggests that, if virtual casinos are to become the next big thing then it will be the millennial players that make it so. Furthermore, virtual casinos may be the novelty that solidifies millennial enthusiasm for online gambling.
In a recent roundtable discussion on Gambling Insider, Rose Chen, Overseas Marketing Director with Beijing Leke VR Technology, confirmed this idea saying:
People who grow up with video games will be the players who join these VR casinos first and will accept this technology better than someone who has never played a video game. It looks like the natural progression for these people to enter virtual casinos. The gambling industry must continually look for ways to expand their target customer base and virtual reality is one of the most innovative and exciting methods to do this.
In the same discussion, ALEA CEO Alexandre Tomic expanded: When the mobile platform became widely used, it caused a new generation of consumers to enter the gambling industry; people who perhaps would not have traditionally played via desktop or visited a land-based casino. This process will be magnified with VR, simply because it can o er a gaming experience so immersive it is unlike any other channel.
THE RIGHT MOMENT?
While the rise in mobile gambling was powered by every member of the target demographic already owning a smartphone, this is not yet the case with VR headsets. For this reason, some pundits are urging caution, saying that while VR is the future of the industry, that future may not come to pass for a few more years.
However, the basic level VR headset needed to play most VR games is a relatively cheap piece of equipment and the big investors in VR are taking action to get them in consumers’ hands. Samsung, for example, are now giving away a free Gear VR headset and gift pack with every Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.
With more and more videos, games and experiences being made for the VR channel and more retailers opening VR stores, headset adoption rates are certain to increase.
As that happens, the number of players keen for a VR gambling experience will quickly grow. Like so much in the gambling sector, it will be the operators that adapt to the technological changes quickest and most decisively that reap the biggest rewards.
The basic level VR headset needed to play most VR games is a relatively cheap piece of equipment and the big investors in VR are taking action to get them in consumers’ hands
The online gambling sector has been consistently rewarded for embracing changes in consumer technology.
Data analytics offers bookmakers more realistic odds, offers players potentially more accurate tips and strategic advice and offers online gambling companies the opportunity to create highly targeted marketing campaigns and personalized offers.
Artificial intelligence could see the creation of poker bots capable of defeating any human player, massively disrupting the online casino sector.
More wearable tech and smart technology will create more consumer data collection points, further stimulate the mobile gambling boom and make converging online and o line operations far easier.
Block chain will improve customer trust in both payment security and the integrity of the online games they play.
At the same time, block chain’s decentralization and democratization of online gambling could massively shift the way people bet online and take power away from the major operators.
Virtual Reality is an exciting new channel for gambling, with an increasingly high rate of headset adoption and more major operators developing immersive games and experiences for this platform.