The iGaming industry has been around for about 25 years, a similar length of time as the e-commerce industry. While the passing of the Free Trade and Processing Zone Act 1994 in Antigua and Barbuda made the former legal, the latter was around a couple of years earlier when the internet was publicly accessible in 1991. Quickly, online lotteries, poker sites and casinos began opening their virtual doors, with more than 200 services available a couple of years later.
However, the passing of the legislation in Antigua and Barbuda would not have been enough on its own. The iGaming industry was born because of the combined legal and technological changes that happened at the same time, making it possible for the public to have internet-enabled computers. Without this, these new online casinos would have no customers to spin their virtual roulette wheels or deal their cards.
Mobile – Another Step Forward
The entire iGaming industry came about by embracing changes in macroeconomic factors like legal and technical changes. Once huge online casinos that were suitable for desktop computers came into existence, the industry could have rested on its laurels. Instead, when smartphones and mobile internet technologies became widespread, online casinos and poker companies adopted mobile technology quickly to broaden their reach to existing and new customers. Most of the large iGaming platforms now offer mobile poker apps for both iOS and Android as well as mobile offerings of casino and bingo games.
Up to this point, the innovation shown by iGaming companies has been to make their offerings more convenient to customers. The first online casinos cut down the friction for players since they no longer needed to travel long (or short) distances to enjoy a game of poker or roulette. Instead, they had to walk to their computer (or pick up their laptop) and begin playing.
Similarly, mobile technology made it even more convenient. Users could play from anywhere, using the device they carried around with them in their pocket. Smartphones are faster, allowing a user to turn on and unlock the device, open a poker app and begin playing in seconds. That compared with the slow-boot times of a desktop computer, as it cycled through its power-on self-test (POST) sequence, loaded Windows and opened start-up applications, all before the user could even open their web browser.
However, since then, iGaming companies have struggled to continue to improve this convenience. Some companies have begun experimenting with virtual reality to create a more immersive experience for players. Such creates more friction for players, though, as they have to wear a virtual reality headset, generally connected to other computer equipment. It also means a player loses their awareness of their surroundings, making it unsuitable for use anywhere but at home. Similar problems exist with live casino games, as while the playing experience is more immersive for players, it’s likely only the most dedicated of fans will enjoy the experience.
It is not yet certain what new technologies will help iGaming make its next giant leap forward. However, it is unlikely that virtual reality or live games will be the ones to do it. Casual players generally want convenience and ease of use, neither of which virtual reality can deliver. In fact, virtual reality suffers the same problem as the 3D TVs of the early 2010s: People don’t like wearing computers on their heads.