Online gaming, AKA iGaming, has enjoyed explosive growth in the UK during the past decade years. The Gambling Act of 2005 opened doors for gambling operators across the country, empowering them with the freedom to market their services to customers online.
As advertising regulations became less strict too, ads for online casinos, bingo sites, and sportsbooks are a mainstay of British television as of 2019. And it has a significant impact on consumers: the UK gambling industry’s yield from October 2017 to September 2018 reached a staggering £14.5bn, with iGaming accounting for a 39% share. A comprehensive list of all new casinos operating in the UK market can be found at www.new-casinos.uk/new/.
What’s behind this consistent popularity?
The power of accessibility and convenience
One of the key factors driving online gaming’s growth in the UK is mobile casinos.
Customers can play their favourite games and place wagers on international sports events at any time, any place (provided they have an internet connection). This removes the inconvenience of visiting a brick-and-mortar betting shop and allows brands to penetrate a broader audience. Consumers who may never have dabbled in gambling before can do so now, even playing slots or table games for free courtesy of many sites’ ‘demo modes’.
This is a risk-free option for novices looking to enjoy the experience without wagering real money. They can discover which games they enjoy most before graduating to staking cash.
Another crucial element of the industry’s expansion is the reliance on promotions to incentivise customers. The vast majority of iGaming sites offer newcomers the opportunity to double or even triple their first deposit, making their money go further. Brands may match members’ first three or four deposits as part of larger welcome packages, combined with bonus spins on selected games.
Promotions have become a major brand differentiator in the iGaming market, and sites offering the best packages can gain a serious competitive edge.
The United States and online gambling
Things are slightly different in the United States, though. The gambling industry is subject to strict restrictions in most states, preventing the public from wagering on sports or casino games outside of specific locations.
Las Vegas has long been a paradise for gambling fans due to Nevada’s liberal approach to (and dependence on) the industry. Yet other states have gradually adopted a more relaxed outlook on gambling too, including iGaming.
New Jersey legalized sports betting in June 2018, but bans on betting at online casinos were lifted in 2013 (yet only for those operating out of Atlantic City). Meanwhile, other states — Massachusetts, for example — have made attempts to legalize iGaming in recent years.
Massachusetts’ Senator Jennifer Flanagan unsuccessfully attempted to pass a bill allowing the State Lottery to sell tickets online in 2016. Further efforts have been made since. Pennsylvania has recently legalized online gaming and sports betting too, while West Virginia have followed suit since.
While the prospect of a nationwide lift on iGaming regulations seems highly unlikely, the United States does appear to be warming more to online betting. Regulators must put steps into place to prevent iGaming brands from taking advantage of consumers to ensure consistency and fairness.
While the US has a long way to go before it catches up to the UK, the iGaming industry shows no signs of slowing down on either side of the pond. And that’s exciting news for any fan.