As we head into 2020, we begin our fourth decade in which the internet has shaped our lives. Starting in the 1990s, and exploding in popularity in the early 2000s, the internet has changed the way we communicate, shop, and entertain ourselves. It has disrupted almost every industry, and shows no sign of stopping.
One industry that has seen its birth and radical transformation due to the internet is iGaming. It came into existence in 1994, when online wagering was legalised by Antigua and Barbuda, with many online casinos launching in the following years.
The First iGaming Sites
The first ever iGaming website was an online lottery that launched in Europe, but online casinos with card and table games quickly launched. These online casinos quickly advanced, developing their product and increasing the range of games available.
Online casinos made wagering on things like sports, poker, slots and roulette accessible to people who did not live near a bookmakers or a casino. Instead of having to travel hundreds of miles, they could simply turn on their computer.
The Mobile Revolution
The advent of the modern smartphone in the late 2000s and early 2010s, pioneered by Apple’s iPhone, suddenly put small but very powerful computers in people’s pockets. The vast majority of consumers now had the ability to do the things they did on their desktop or laptop computer, from anywhere in the world. For some people, smartphones were their first and only way to connect to the internet.
This created an opportunity for iGaming brands who wanted to access this large group of consumers, so they quickly began launching mobile apps to let users place bets on sports, play poker and enjoy casino games.
The apps could be used at a sports ground, while commuting, or just about anywhere, helping to create an advantage for first movers into the smartphone ecosystem.
Nowadays, mobile apps are taken as a given by consumers. While there’s no major differentiator given to any brand that has a mobile app, not having one will significantly impede their ability to grow. The best brands have strong mobile and desktop experiences that let consumers place wagers on whatever device they choose. An example of this is DraftKings, who have a well designed desktop interface, and Android and iOS apps that mirror this experience.
For the next few years, growth in the iGaming sector is likely to come from the new markets created by the legislation changes in the United States. New technologies like VR are being experimented with, but none have yet had the same impact that smartphones did.
What’s for certain though is that iGaming looks like it will continue to grow, just as it has done for the last 25 years.