The events of the last 14 months or so have left an indelible mark on the industry and culture of the United States.
The worldwide pandemic may have forever changed our lives in many ways, from mass vaccinations to an increased understanding of disease transmission and how to combat it. The closure of businesses has affected industry: before lockdowns, only 20% of US citizens worked from home; research suggests that figure could rise to more than 50% as things open once more.
The online gaming industry in the US has also changed too, with seismic shifts in the way consumers get their gaming fix. By gaming, we refer to iGaming, such as online casinos, slot machines and card games. Many casinos were forced to close in the pandemic, but online providers could remain operational and seized vast chunks of the market share.
That has led to a massive jump in revenue, as the latest figures show. Globe Newswire reports that the US iGaming market was worth $1.9bn in 2020 and that it could rise by as much as 17.32% over the next five years. Last year’s jump in revenue is easily explained, major competitors were closed, and people were restricted to their homes and had little option but to turn to mobile devices if they wanted to play such games. Still, casinos are opening now, so why is the industry not settling down to pre-pandemic levels? Casinos are open again in the US and reporting impressive revenue, so what factors are in play that allows the iGaming industry to thrive despite this?
The nature of these online games means that they can quickly adapt to changing consumer trends, and they are immediately accessible and flexible. Some new customers, driven to their devices over the last 14 months, are likely to remain loyal to their providers. Customer retention is one key element to their ongoing success, and providers do this by constantly evolving when it comes to their services. For example, the slot machines in a physical location are fixed and difficult to rotate regularly. However, an online provider can instantly provide topical, popular games and remove ones that do not work as well. Leading portal Gala Casino offers several branded games, such as From Dusk till Dawn 10 and Gremlins which have niche themes but appeal to a particular demographic of player. That diversity and variety is not something a physical provider can offer. Online providers can also quickly add and remove time-sensitive games, such as those around Christmas and Halloween. Being that reactive keeps the experience fresh for customers.
As well as the providers being reactive, varied and evolving, the industry is also changing. Laws across the US around sportsbook and online poker are changing, and with each state that introduces new legislation, there is a new raft of customers eager to become involved. Online poker, another popular form of iGaming, has been heavily regulated since 2011, but in recent years states have become aware of the income possibilities and moved to relax those laws. Maryland is the latest to introduce a bill, and others are likely to follow over the next few years.
The iGaming industry is changing the whole gaming landscape across the United States. Whilst physical casinos are experiencing a boom now they are open again, they may have to adapt to a landscape that has changed thanks to lawmakers, the pandemic and savvy iGaming providers significantly.
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