Technology and online gambling just go together, a perfect combination. One could not essentially exist without the other and the last decade has highlighted this as the industry has evolved considerably, leveraging new advancements in technology.
This has proven to have a number of benefits, not least of all for the user, which in turn has impacted things such as efficiency and also balance sheets of particular operators.
Arguably one of the biggest technological drivers has been the development of more sophisticated devices, which has helped to significantly improve the experience for customers - this especially being the case for smartphone technology.
It has also led to more software capabilities being able to be integrated - live casinos being a prime example - with better-improved devices - again which has greatly improved the experience for customers.
Because of the improvement in technology, online brands quickly realised that they could offer an even more immersive time for customers with the introduction of ‘live casino’ boutiques, focused on delivering a more authentic real-life casino familiarity for customers, from the comfort of their own surroundings.
Almost in tandem, sportsbooks introduced ‘live betting’ also called ‘in-play betting’ for customers, which meant that they could place bets in real time - the increased capabilities of devices have helped this considerably.
Influence of software providers on the iGaming industry
While much can be accredited to online gambling brands for the technological progress over the years, there is another key factor that should be considered, which is that of software providers - many of which have helped to drive the industry forward even further.
Some of the best ones have been around for at least a couple of decades and as a result, have constantly been right on the cutting edge of technology, hiring the best minds in the sector to help with their goals of being thought of as leaders in this particular niche.
Most of these were alert to changing trends. Many very quickly adopted a ‘mobile-first’ approach to software development, when it came to creating new slots and paying attention to what the customer might want.
Companies such as Evolution Gaming (now rebranded as ‘Evolution’ following the acquisition of its rival brand, NetEnt), decided to create a niche of their own, where it is now considered the leader in live casino sector, even creating its own unique games, like ‘Monopoly Live’ which are highly sought-after.
Others such as Microgaming identified the jackpot slot niche of the online gambling industry as one where they could become an authority and as a result, this has paid dividends, having been responsible for creating some of the most popular and highest-paying jackpots in the industry.
Now, the grip that software providers have on the industry is particularly strong, with very little technological development coming from in-house at operator brands, though there are a couple that are creating their own intellectual property to differentiate themselves from their competition.
When 888 Holdings (which has a number of brands under its umbrella), launched its own B2B software provider - Dragonfish, this was a significant indicator that it had realised the influence that these could have on the industry. It also gave the company even more freedom and flexibility in the marketplace to stand out from its competition by creating software primarily for its own brands, in a bid to increase credibility and drive customer acquisition. Furthermore, it also added a new revenue stream to its business, with some of the software that Dragonfish developed being made available to other, smaller operator brands.
Payment providers increase differentiation for brands
Those operators that were quick to realise that fintech would have a substantial effect on the online gambling industry saw a considerable increase in customers, especially those who had become particularly security conscious. The introduction of, and also the variety of e-wallets that had been made available by operators gave those customers more of a choice, with these having multiple benefits.
This wasn’t just from a security perspective, but alternative payment methods ensured the withdrawal process was a lot faster than more traditional options, which in turn, improved customer experience.
However, it was not long before virtually every major operator had a wide range of payment options available for customers, while even software providers would soon add this to their services as an efficiency-increasing measure for potential clients.
Future game-changing technology developments for the industry?
With small, tentative strides being made in even more sophisticated technology, it may not come as too much of a surprise to see the online gambling industry take advantage of these to increase customer acquisition.
Augmented and Virtual Reality are both niches that are currently witnessing considerable success in other industries and this could well be integrated into the gamification aspect of iGaming that some online casinos are starting to adopt.
By extension, wearable technology could well become the ‘norm’ for the online gambling industry, if a scalable and foolproof solution can be developed - there is every possibility that some software providers have even started to look into this.
Artificial intelligence has played a role in the industry since the emergence of online gambling, however, this has constantly been evolving over the last couple of decades, to become even more developed.
It has enabled the creation of software to support certain areas of the industry, with some operators having tools that enable them to improve their marketing efforts, by knowing what some customers prefer to use at their sites and then being able to use this information to segment their direct marketing campaigns.
Ultimately, when considering how much the industry has evolved over the last two decades, there is no doubt that it will continue to do so, especially because of the rate at which technology keeps on being developed. We could well see the introduction and integration of a completely new industry.