Last Updated on August 14, 2023
While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic was – and continues to be – a major bust for online sports betting, all of this extra time stuck indoors hasn’t necessarily been the worst thing for online casinos.
Indeed, the various lockdowns that have taken place since the first wave of the virus hit us back in December 2020 have generally seen online casino revenue grow exponentially, with people spending more time in front of their computers and less of their disposable income on outdoor social activities.
Indeed, the online casino industry is as advanced as it’s ever been, with new cutting-edge trends emerging virtually every month. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the more recent developments that have already started to take hold and where these could lead us in the near future.
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Gamification & The Rise Of The Super Slot
Despite online video slots being one of the main revenue drivers at virtually every online casino in existence, it’s fair to say that until recently, the needs of slot players have been criminally overlooked.
There was a time when online casinos – and the software developers who supplied their slots – thought that churning out another ancient Egyptian-themed game and throwing in a couple of Free Spins features would be enough to keep the masses happy. These days, however, far more is needed.
Just as video games have grown more sophisticated in recent years, so too have the tastes of online slot players – and to sate the needs of this new breed of customer, online casinos have had to gamify their offering, turning what was once a pure gambling activity into a far more entertaining medium.
Many “next generation” slots feature elements that could easily have been lifted straight from a PS5 or Xbox title. In some, players collect tokens as they spin which can then be used to unlock additional features. In others, they compete directly against other players on hotly-contested prize leaderboards.
Whatever the gimmick, the common theme is that this new style of slot puts player engagement top of the agenda and gives them a real incentive to come back and advance their progress as they play.
Connecting The Player Through Virtual Reality
While the world of VR gaming perhaps hasn’t taken off quite as well as expected, from the moment the technology first reached maturity, online casinos were already exploring how they could capitalise.
Although still not as widely available as many early adopters would have hoped, the increasing affordability of VR consoles and peripherals has already seen many players ditch their traditional 2D online casinos in favour of a more immersive experience where they can be at the center of the action.
With wagering at VR gambling sites expected to be somewhere in the region of $500 million for 2021, there’s clearly a big market for this new online casino format – and given how many bricks-and-mortar casinos have been temporarily forced to close their doors due to COVID-19, it’s not hard to see why.
Imagine, for a minute, being able to walk the aisles of a Las Vegas-style casino and use your hands to physically place a bet on your preferred gaming table without leaving your sofa. This is the reality – or virtual reality – that VR casinos can currently offer, and that experience will only improve in future.
It won’t be long until players at VR casinos will be able to connect on a more meaningful level, using their online avatars to socialise with friends before sitting down and betting at the tables together.
Promotional Automation & Artificial Intelligence
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for at least a decade, you’ll no doubt be aware that data is big business for any company wanting to get a better understanding of what makes their customers tick.
In the online casino industry, information such as email opening rates, click through percentages and bonus adoption have long been the tools used to measure the success of a promotional campaign, but these days there’s so much more data that can be used to boost the effectiveness of your marketing.
Many online casinos now use smart lobbies, which use AI to track everything from the types of games players are opening to their average stake and use it to create personalised displays that only show them relevant content – and this technology is certain to improve further in the not-so-distant future.
One of the most likely developments on this front is that the data gathered on player preferences will be used by the AI to automatically choose and deploy promotions that are likely to appeal to them, with this in turn removing the need to manually target customers and hope they like what’s on offer.
From the online casino operator’s point of view, advancements in this area will not only increase the effectiveness of marketing campaigns but also reduce the manpower required to implement them.
Cashing In On Increased Cryptocurrency Confidence
Probably second only to “coronavirus” in terms of 2021’s most searched terms, cryptocurrencies – particularly Bitcoin – are almost certain to play a major role in shaping the online casino of the future.
In the past year alone, we’ve already seen many more online casinos rush to embrace cryptocurrency as an accepted form of payment, with players also seeming to enjoy the speedy transaction times, increased levels of security and – of course – anonymity that their favorite digital tokens can provide.
However, an online casino allowing cryptocurrency payments is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s possible in this space. What if – for example – an operator provided its own form of digital token that could either be bought and used on the site or be earned by playing casino games?
Actually, crypto casino projects like this already exist; and while they’re yet to make it into the mainstream, they’re certainly starting to demonstrate the scope of what might be possible in future. Could, for instance, current casino loyalty programs be replaced by an actual crypto reward scheme?
Regardless of how the industry develops, it’s clear that cryptocurrencies are here to stay – and as public confidence in them grows, the demand for casinos that support them is only going to increase.