The online casino industry has exploded since its early days. Technology, regulations and customer preferences have changed over time and continue to shape up in different ways. 2021 in particular has brought various changes, some triggered by the worldwide COVID pandemic. The industry has also seen some drastic shifts that directly affect players and operators.
Technological advancements play a critical role in how online casinos operate. Most gambling sites rely on online banking services, security and encryption, gaming software, and other technologies. Online casinos stand to be affected whenever there are advancements in any of the mentioned areas, and in 2021, players have seen various shifts.
More Crypto and eWallet Payments
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin are trendy and popular across new online casinos. Crypto offers safety, convenience, reliability and anonymity, precisely what most punters look for in the gaming process. EWallets like Neteller and Skrill are also common across most casino cashier sections.
VR and Live Dealer Games
Virtual Reality keeps gaining popularity among players and offers immersive gaming experiences reminiscent of traditional land-based gambling halls. Live Casinos are also inseparable from modern casinos. Like VR, they provide 3D experiences with real human croupiers broadcasting live from a studio.
Changes in Gamers’ Preferences
Technology isn’t the only thing changing online casinos. Throughout the evolution of internet gaming sites, players have been involved in shaping the offering and there are many changes in gamers’ preferences in 2021.
Mobile Gaming: Many punters prefer playing games on the go, and modern casinos are designed just for that. Virtually all gambling websites you encounter today are fully optimized for mobile operating systems. A study conducted by Anders Hakansson from Lund University also indicates an increase in mobile betting and iGaming, especially after the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic. However, mobile gaming was on the rise before the pandemic. Some operators have native apps players can install to play anywhere, anytime. However, mobile web-based platforms are just as convenient and reliable.
Explosive Game Variety: Online casinos have never had so many different kinds of games. Players are no longer restricted to slots, table games, poker, bingo and sports betting. Thanks to technological advancements, game providers can recreate virtually all classic games. In 2021, players have access to a wide range of options, including craps, baccarat, keno, slingo, arcade, eSports, virtual sports, and many more. Slots are also evolving rapidly, with providers focusing on immersive quests, crisp graphics, and engaging storylines based on popular TV shows, movies, sports, inspired by ancient civilizations, fairy tales, folklore, and so forth.
Changes in Gambling Regulations
Regulations, like technology and gamers' preferences, have a huge impact on online casinos. Several regions have a fully regulated online gaming scene, while many are still drafting laws to govern the industry. Regulations are bound to change, and when they do, iGaming providers, operators, and players are affected. For instance, on February 2, 2021 the UK Gambling Commission recently added new changes that included posting total losses/wins, eliminating Autospin from slots and prohibiting reverse withdrawals. These regulations are only observed by UKGC sites, which may force game providers to offer two versions of the same game. However, that's left to be seen. Here are some present changes stemming from new regulations:
Responsible Gambling – Many online casinos offer self-exclusion schemes and links to gambling help and support.
Increased Verification – Player accounts will soon require more verification.
Limited Advertising – Promotional material will be limited and must never target minors.
The impacts of COVID-19 were felt everywhere, including in the casino industry. Online operators became the destination for many players after calls for social distancing and closure of most brick-and-mortar gaming halls. IGaming websites have seen a surge in new registrations from punters looking to explore online games and options. Some offline operators have crossed over to the online industry where there are several iGaming websites launched every month. The demand for online casinos is being met by a surplus of casino platforms, each with unique deals and offerings. More online betting activity can only lead to more changes, and 2021 is already witnessing the following:
New online games and options
Increased demand for live dealer games
Casinos springing to carter to new player preferences
Operators are offering more lucrative bonuses to attract players
Online casinos are never static at any given time. New trends keep emerging with changing demands, laws, preferences, technology, and industry. Mobile gaming, crypto payments, eSports, and live casinos are the most popular trends of 2021. Nonetheless, many ongoing processes imply the online casino industry may be different in a couple of years.