The Secrets Behind the Online Gambling Industry

Preface: The world of online gambling is a fascinating milieu of pulse-pounding entertainment for players everywhere. This virtual gaming enclave provides the perfect platform for legal-age players to enjoy a fascinating array of card games, table games, slots games, instant win games, lottery games, and beyond. For the number crunchers out there – the statisticians and gambling aficionados – there is much to be learned from the online gambling industry.
Leading statistics portal Statista has extensively analyzed the online gambling market and determined that sharp growth is projected through 2024. A report was released in September 2018 detailing the unprecedented uptick in global online gambling activity which was measured at $45.8 billion in 2017, and is expected to exceed $94.4 billion by 2024. The statistics were compiled at a time when PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) of 1992 was still in force.
Now that SCOTUS has ruled it unconstitutional, US states are ramping up their online sports betting offerings. The US sports betting industry is expected to gain momentum in the 2020s, and this will significantly boost prospects for the online gambling industry overall. The reasons are twofold: the adoption of online sports betting regulation is deemed a viable way to generate much-needed tax revenues to fill up state coffers. Equally important is the fact that widespread regulation of online sports betting at state level will refocus the narrative on expanding online casino gaming.
It is against this backdrop that prospects for the online gambling industry remain strong. The online casino industry is growing at a steady clip. The most successful online gambling industry is represented by the United Kingdom. It sports well-developed frameworks, oversight authorities, and licensing bodies to safeguard player interests, and regulate online gambling activity within a broad framework of responsible gaming advocacy. The online gambling industry is primarily focused on several prosperous markets, notably the European Union, and the United Kingdom. Within the EU, there are several countries which have pending legislation, although the EU rules and directives expressly permit online gambling throughout.

European Commission Regulations and Online Gambling in the EU

Loosely speaking, online gambling is permitted throughout Europe. However, there are no sector-specific rules and regulations in place to determine how individual EU countries must organize their gambling services. In other words, it is up to individual EU countries to determine their own policies. Having said that, several EU countries permit all forms of online gambling, while others limit their online gambling to casino games, poker games, or sports betting.
Various EU countries have monopolies over online gambling activity, with state-run enterprises, or exclusive entities controlling all the online gambling activity in the country. Nowadays, there is an increasing tendency towards licensing systems and frameworks allowing multiple operators to offer their services to players. Online gambling regulation in Europe must be assessed on a country by country basis. Germany for example has stringent regulations prohibiting online gambling, but allows sports betting and lottery games.
SPOILER ALERT: The United Kingdom has successfully negotiated an exit from the European Union a.k.a. Brexit, and this extremely complex process will impact online casinos licensed in the UK, and those licensed in the EU, from a regulatory perspective. It is worth pointing out that online casino operators licensed in other European Union member states are not allowed to offer their online services to UK players. However, they can advertise their online services.

Which European Countries Offer Widespread Online Gambling Services to Legal-Age Players?

online gambling services by country

Source: Targo-Consulting 2019
  • Austria – betting, sports, and online gambling is permitted.
  • France – betting, sports, skill games, and card games are permitted, including online gambling.
  • Belgium – betting, sports, card games, casino games, and arcade games are permitted, including online gambling.
  • Cyprus – betting, sports and online gambling are permitted.
  • Greece – online gambling is currently permitted, with all other forms of betting allowed temporarily.
  • Hungary – card games and casino games are permitted, and online gambling is allowed.
  • Ireland – betting, sports, and online gambling are permitted.
  • Italy – betting, sports, skill games, card games, casino games, lottery games, arcade games, and online gambling are permitted.
  • Malta – betting, sports, skill games, card games, casino games, lottery games, arcade games, and online gambling are permitted.
  • Portugal – betting, sports, skill games, card games, casino games, and online gambling are permitted, many with state-run monopolies.
  • Slovakia – betting, sports, skill games, card games, casino games, and online gambling are permitted.
  • Spain – betting, sports, skill games, card games, casino games, lottery games, and online gambling are permitted.
  • The Netherlands – no betting is allowed on any games, including online casino games.
  • The United Kingdom – betting, sports, skill games, card games, casino games, lottery games, and arcade games are permitted, including all forms of online gambling.
Increasing Mobile Adoption Spurring Uptick in Online Gambling Activity
mobile adoption in online gambling activity 

Source: Statista ‘Forecast Number of Mobile Devices Worldwide From 2019 – 2023)
In-depth analysis by Targo Consulting in Israel has established that the online gambling industry is expected to generate revenues of $81.71 billion by 2022 with a compound annual growth rate of 10.8% from 2016. This growth is facilitated by revenues generated through lottery games, sports betting, bingo, casino games, and poker. Given high adoption of mobile devices (Blackberry, Windows Phone, Android, and iOS), it is much easier to participate in online gambling activity.
Statista forecasts the number of mobile devices worldwide will accelerate sharply from 14.02 billion devices in 2020, to 14.91 billion devices in 2021, 15.96 billion devices by 2022, and 16.8 billion devices by 2023. If only a fraction of these mobile users participate in in online gambling, the numbers will climb rapidly. The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) compiled its annual report on Gambling Participation in 2018: Behaviour, Awareness and Attitudes and released it in February 2019.
infographic online gambling
Source: Gambling Commission of the United Kingdom
SPOILER ALERT: The above infographic from the UKGC is telling. It indicates that the largest chunk of the gambling population is the 55-64-year-old age group, with 55% of them most likely to have gambled. Also, in the UK, 18% of adults have gambled online, with some 51% of men having gambled and 41% of women. The gambling participation rates have shown a steady uptick from 2015 (52% of 55-64-year-olds) through 2018 (55% of 55-64-year-olds).
gambling participation by gender and age
Source: United Kingdom Gambling Commission, Gambling Participation by Gender and Age
Several interesting statistics have been revealed by the Gambling Commission, notably that 96% of online gamblers play at home. While 55% of online gamblers have used a mobile device to gamble with, mobile phones recorded a 44% increase in 2018. Yet, despite the robust growth in mobile, 45% of UK-based players prefer their laptops (from the 2018 study) for online gambling (down from 50% in 2017). In terms of where UK-based players prefer to play online gambling games, the secret is out:
  • 4% of players prefer to play online gambling games at a sports venue
  • 8% of players prefer to play online gambling games in a pub or a club
  • 12% prefer to play online gambling games at work
  • 12% prefer to play online gambling games while commuting
  • 96% prefer to play online gambling games at home 

Secrets about Player Behaviour with Online Gambling Games

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission Report sheds plenty of light on player behaviour in respect of online gambling games. The analysis has found the following:
  • 21% of players have played online gambling style games
  • 9% of gamblers use budgeting for management of their gaming
  • 20% of players have read the T&C associated with online gambling games, bonuses, and promotions.
The data points to a strong and steady growth in sports betting activity from around $15.1 billion in 2012 to an estimated $30.7 billion by 2021 (more when US legal sports betting is factored into the equation). While online casino gaming contributes significantly to global online gambling revenues, it is growing at a slower pace than sports betting. From a figure of $7.4 billion in 2012 online casino gambling growth is expected to reach $16.7 billion by 2021 (Targo Consulting).
Online poker is perhaps the most different of all the online gambling verticals, with stagnant growth rates globally at around $2.8 billion between 2012 and 2021. One sector which has shown promise since 2012 is soft gaming. These online gambling games include instant win games like scratchcards. In 2012, these games generated $5 billion, and by 2021 they're expected to generate $14.4 billion in revenue for online gambling operators.
Here's another secret – consumer research indicates that the overall age of an online gambler is 34, while that of a mobile gambler is 32. In the US, some 57% of online gamblers are female, with women making up a sizeable component of all online gambling verticals. Frequency of gambling is another hot topic issue which draws lots of attention from industry aficionados. According to European Commission (EC) research, the majority of online gamblers play at least once a month (62.3% of those surveyed), with only 2.8% of players participating in daily online gambling games.
The gaming realms have fascinating secrets. In this article we presented the wonders of this multifaceted world, an intriguing glimpse into an adventure-rich world.