Back to the Future: The Then and Now of iGaming
If you’ve somehow made your way to this blog, chances are you’re interested in the world of iGaming, how it works, where it comes from, and where it’s going. You might even be interested in starting an online gaming business yourself! Guess what? You’re in luck! Because we’re about to fire up our time-machine engines and head back to the humble beginnings of the online gaming universe. But before we do that, let’s answer a simple question:
What is iGaming
Let’s give you a brief iGaming definition!
The little “i” you see there stands for “internet,” which is a dead giveaway that we’re talking about online gaming. In a nutshell, iGaming is betting that happens in the online sphere. Whether it’s sports betting, playing games on online casinos, esports and virtual sports, all of them are mushroomed under online gaming. Yes, even games like Dota and Counter Strike. Gone are the days when parents would scold their children for playing video games on the internet. It’s a legitimate business now and has grown into a billion dollar sphere!
Now that we know the concept, let’s go back to the future and see the origins of this dynamic industry:
History of iGaming
While newer generations may feel like online gaming has always existed, it’s actually not that old of a phenomenon! It was just about three decades ago that you had to physically leave your apartment to go play a good round of one-armed bandits or bet at a sports event. There were precursors, however. For example, in 1990, a company called Interwetten offered punters the chance to place bets on sports over the phone, which was the closest thing to the online variant. Then came the internet, and everything changed.
Well, things didn’t change that fast. At first, you couldn’t carry out any financial transactions using the internet which made betting virtually impossible. Then came Netscape Navigator. The brainchild of a US-based independent computer services company, the browser allowed users to process online payments, albeit with numerous safety issues. This might seem worlds apart from online gaming, but it was a major milestone as online payment processing is an integral part of the industry. We’ll talk more about this later on.
In 1994, a sovereign island country of the West Indies called Antigua and Barbuda passed an act called the Free Trade and Processing Act which provided licences for any business that wanted to launch an online casino. This virtually opened the floodgates to what later became one of the most profitable industries.
The same year as the Free Trade and Processing Act, a company called Microgaming developed the first gambling software that functioned on a full scale. Many industry experts consider this the official starting point of online gaming. Microgaming went on to become one of the biggest companies in the industry and gained more reputation in 2009, when one of their progressive slots paid out a record-breaking $6,374,434. The company broke its own record again in 2015, paying out £13,209,300!
1994 proved to be an even more fruitful year, as CryptoLogic Limited, a software company founded by two brothers from Dublin, developed security software which would lay the groundwork for the thousands of online casinos to come.
Two years after the establishment of the first online casinos, the gaming regulatory body known as the Kahnawake Gaming Commission began granting gaming licences to online casinos and gambling sites on a global scale. By that time, online betting was largely limited to casinos only. However, in 1997, Interwetten became one of the first online platforms to offer online sports betting, in effect pioneering the industry. Online sportsbooks would soon become as common as physical sportsbooks, if not more.
Now, along the way, some were critical of online gambling for various reasons. This is why bills such as the Internet Gambling Protection Act and Interactive Gambling Moratorium Act were introduced in efforts to limit gambling on the online sphere. Nevertheless, the industry kept growing in popularity and by the time the 2000’s arrived, millions of people were participating in online gambling and by the 2010’s, the market had reached more than $50 billion. Along with this surge, responsible gaming policies were also being drafted in order to keep players safe from harm. After all, this is a top priority for all companies offering these services or developing the software, like we do at Technamin.
iGaming and Technology
When talking about this sphere, we can really separate it into two sections: before mobile phones and after mobile phones. As an industry, online gaming is synonymous with technology. It always grows alongside the latest technological developments, becoming more and more advanced over time.
We already spoke about the pre-mobile history of online gaming and how it took its baby steps. Now we’re going to take a step further and discuss what role the advent of mobile phones and other technology had to play. It all starts with a simple question: “Can you imagine your life without mobile phones or some sort of handheld device?” Unless you’ve imposed strict “no-tech” rules upon yourself, the answer to this question is most likely a no. Most people now use their mobile devices more than their laptops or computers. According to statistics, there are currently over 15 billion mobile phones around the world and that number is only growing.
Combine this with our insatiable love for gaming and the connection suddenly becomes clear! More and more people are opting for gaming websites that are optimised to be mobile-friendly. This way, access is much easier and bettors can play their favourite games anywhere, any time of the day. This is also why most operators and providers are opting for mobile-first approaches in their business. We also carry the same approach here at Technamin, ensuring that our products function perfectly on mobile devices.
Aside from smartphones and tablets, there is another area where technology makes its presence fully known in the world of online gaming: eSports. Electronic sports are taking the world by storm and are a big part of the industry now. Every modern Sportsbook now offers eSports, including ours!
iGaming Trends Now and in the Future:
Just like any other industry, online gaming is always seeing new trends. There are a few trends happening right now that are worth mentioning:
Cryptocurrencies and Crypto Payments: With the appearance of Bitcoin over a decade ago, online payment processing underwent significant changes. Nowadays, online gaming and cryptocurrencies are enjoying a close collaboration! Payments have become easier, more secure, and faster! There are many crypto casinos out there who allow players to make transactions using various cryptocurrencies. Technamin also has a crypto casino lobby which is full of games from top-tier providers.
Customisation: A customer-centric approach is something that is trending a lot these days. The more developed online gaming becomes, the more customisation the players look for. This is why you can now find slot games that are covering a wide variety of themes for different tastes. Everything from casino games of choice to favourite sports matches are available all across the board for bettors to choose from, as well as languages and payment methods. Customisation is the name of the game!
Online Sports Betting: Whether traditional sports or eSports, online sports betting is on fire these days! Catering to a sports betting retail client base is now a must for all operators and providers are here to help!
All of these trends are expected to continue, with new trends jumping on as we go:
AI and Virtual Reality: The industry is already using both artificial intelligence and virtual reality, but this is something that we will be seeing more of in the future. AI is currently being used for gamification purposes and player segmentation, something which will only become more advanced over time. Virtual reality and augmented reality are also becoming more prevalent. It’s all about replicating the ultimate betting experience! Speaking of replicating…
When Mark Zuckerberg first announced the Metaverse, the world spiralled into shock. Some were quick to liken it to the worst scenario in a science fiction movie, yet others saw it as another step forward toward futurism. So where’s the link with online gaming? If virtual reality can create the illusion of being in a casino or a sports event, imagine what the Metaverse can do! Pretty soon, we’ll be able to experience what it actually feels like to interact with other bettors in a virtual world. We hope that another pandemic doesn’t happen, but if it does, the Metaverse will most likely bridge the gap when land-based locations shut down!
NFTs: At one point, everyone seemed to be talking about NFTs. There is a good reason behind this, because they are everywhere these days and the online gaming industry is slowly beginning to embrace them. These non-fungible tokens will surely have a more colourful role to play in the future!
How the iGaming Industry is Driving the Global Economy
With an industry as big as this, you can imagine the impact it has on the global economy. We could talk solely about statistics, but that would just be scratching the surface! This industry is not only profitable in terms of the revenue generated, it also creates jobs! That’s right. Being the software-based sphere it is, iGaming is the perfect working opportunity for developers, programmers, and content creators. As a result, it leads to working opportunities and companies are constantly hiring new employees!
Additionally, thanks to eSports, many professional eSport players can now earn an income with their skills, participating in various international competitions and winning awards along the way. The same goes for streamers who earn a living by playing skill-based online games and broadcasting them live.
Aside from that, we shouldn’t forget about taxes. Operators of online gambling websites are required to pay taxes, and the online gaming industry is known to produce a significant amount of tax revenue. In the United States alone, there’s talk of annual tax revenue from online gaming amounting to $6.35 billion dollars!
What are the Key Challenges in the iGaming Industry
There had to be a caveat to all of this awesomeness, right? As amazing as the online gaming industry is, it does come with its set of challenges.
The number one challenge is security. Being fully online, the industry is prone to the same security issues as the internet itself. Compromised passwords, leaked information, downtime, these are all problems which operators might face. This is precisely why most providers offer their platforms with tightened security protocols and ensure the safety of both operators and the end users.
Another challenge that operators face is responsible gaming. Especially with the sharp increase of users during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, steps must be taken to keep bettors safe from the possible damages of spending too much time on online gambling. At Technamin, we strongly advocate responsible gaming and make sure that our operators can offer their end users betting experiences that are as safe as they are fun.
The next challenge may be a bit strange, but the online gaming operators who offer casino games, live casinos and sports sometimes find it difficult to attract the generation before Gen Z. This is partly because older generations are more used to land-based experiences rather than the online variant. It’s a big market, and we’ve heard of an iGaming business or two who have struggled. However, the pandemic and the resulting lockdowns managed to reel in a portion of the land-based fans!
And finally, there is the issue of market saturation. There is just too much of the same! Operators now have to work twice as hard to stand out from the competition and attract bettors to their websites. But, fear not! There is a solution for everything!
Regardless of the aforementioned challenges, you can clearly see that online gaming is an amazing industry with tons of untapped potential! And at Technamin, we share an undying passion for the sector. This is why we have decided to help operators not just solve their current issues, but also to future proof their online gaming businesses. Should you be interested in setting up an iGaming business that is built to last, contact us today and let us help you get there!
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