The Impact of Technology on the Gambling and Casino Industry

As the mobile gambling industry is estimated to be worth $100 billion by the end of 2017, we look at how the betting industry has grown, and the role technology has played in its development.

Gambling is the act of playing a game for money, usually by placing bets or playing the odds in the hope of winning. Gambling is still prevalent because of the positive feelings or adrenaline rush obtained from taking a risk – and this allure hasn’t changed since its inception. Despite changes in the industry brought about by technological advancements, gambling and betting have remained popular pastimes and hobbies.

It is clear that technology has changed the way people play, from dice rolling and playing cards in 100 A.D. to a city of casinos and unmanned betting shops with touch screen kiosks in the twenty-first century. Examining the history of gambling and the platforms that support it can help you understand how and why technology has influenced this activity…

The History of Gambling as an Industry 

[1790s] The first person to profit from bookmaking was a man named Harry Ogden. By operating from Newmarket Heath, he viewed the winners and studied the field, laying odds on each horse rather than two propositions.

[1845] All forms of gambling were restricted to the racetrack due to a law that prohibited public games of cards with money at stake. This prompted ‘brick and mortar’ bookmakers to expand their offerings beyond horse racing. Before moving into shops, bookmakers used a simple pen and paper and frequented markets or backstreets.

[1961] Betting shops were legalized in May, and 10,000 stores opened in the first six months. The betting shop would have a bookie behind the counter studying the pages and a ‘board-man’ who marked up results and prices for races obtained from Extel via a wire service and vocalized by the blower.

[1986] Betting store technology evolved as additional gambling legislation allowed the shops to provide hot drinks and televisions to watch the races. Fixed-odds betting terminals and computer-generated racing courses were also added.

[In 1998] By the time the internet was fully operational, bookmaking companies had recognized the potential of online betting. Betting exchanges such as Betfair and Betdaq were established, and online bingo and poker sites were launched.

[In 2012] Online gambling revenue was estimated to be $4 billion, an increase of 80 percent from 2008.

[2015] The online gambling industry was estimated to be worth $41.4 billion at the end of the year.

What impact have mobile devices and apps had on the betting industry?

The internet and mobile phones have changed the face of many industries, from shopping to restaurants, and it is rare to find a business that does not have a digital footprint. The gambling industry is no exception. Mobile gaming increased by 75% in 2012 and was expected to increase by an additional 84% between 2013 and 2015, with mobile gambling more than doubling in 2014.

The value of bets placed on mobile devices is now estimated to be $100 billion, with 164 million people using mobile devices to visit a mobile casino, place a bet, or purchase a lottery ticket. The mobile gambling industry is expected to account for 40% of the total online gambling market by 2018. This growth has demonstrated the importance of mobile apps in the betting industry, but with so many customers able to bet from the comfort of their own homes, how do bookmakers ensure that their physical locations remain relevant?

The betting shop and technology

The challenge for traditional betting shops on the high street is to attract customers into their shops in the face of competition from mobile apps that users can use at home or on the go. Apps and technology are increasingly being incorporated into betting shops through touch screen betting kiosks, allowing gamblers to socialize while benefiting from the convenience of technology.

Bookmakers offer several benefits that home betting cannot.  Online live casinos are limited to card use only, which can sometimes lead to overspending or identity issues – in-store, cash is accepted, so customers can limit their spending while knowing that their activities aren’t being recorded. There’s also the social aspect of betting, which online chat rooms on betting websites can’t replace. The community feeling of the bookmakers creates an atmosphere that cannot be experienced through a mobile phone screen at home, from the bookies to the customers.

The adoption of tablet kiosks within bookmakers has combined the usability of mobile apps with the sociability of the bookmaker to create an in-store experience that combines the usability of mobile apps with the sociability of the bookmaker. Tablet kiosks combine the usability of mobile apps with the functionality of integrated devices, such as ticket printers, cash acceptors, and loyalty card scanners.