2020 will go down in history as one of the worst years in modern times. The global pandemic that saw Covid-19 spread around the world changed the lives of millions. Many people became unemployed and businesses collapsed. It has forced people to work remotely, either temporarily due to lockdown or for some permanently.
Many industries including the hospitality industry have had to change their business models to try to survive. Many restaurants began concentrating on delivery services and meal kits that can be cooked at home. The gambling industry was hit very hard too by the pandemic. Lockdowns across the world meant that casinos had to shut their doors along with bingo halls, sporting venues and bookmakers.
Tourist spots emptied overnight and it is unclear when places like Las Vegas during Covid can return to normality. Many experts predict footfall for high streets will not return to the levels seen previously as people rely more on deliveries and spend more time at home.
During 2020 though, gambling continued regardless of brick and mortar establishments being closed. How has technology allowed this to happen and is this the way forward for the gambling industry?
Quarantine and lack of travel
The most major effect on gambling was the inability to travel due to Covid-19. This led to people searching for more ways to entertain themselves at home. Streaming giants offered free monthly trials to draw people in. For example, Netflix added 16 million people to its user base. Delivery services such as Amazon and UberEats saw a huge increase due to people either being unable or unwilling to go outside to make purchases or buy meals.
The online gambling industry saw similar increases. While the traditional gambling industry was floundering the online side of the business was seeing record people searching for casinos online. Some of this was from traditional gamblers who would normally visit a high street bookmaker or perhaps a bingo hall. Others were first time players who simply wanted to try out new games like blackjack online or slots.
Technology makes online gambling easily accessible
Nearly everyone has a smartphone and many have laptops or tablets. All you need is an Android or Apple device with a WiFi connection and you can visit an online casino or other gaming site. These websites are optimised to work on your smartphone making them available for anyone. They are also open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so they can suit anyone’s lifestyle or working hours.
Online payment methods
Unlike traditional casinos where cash is usually the only payment method, online gambling allows users to pay in a multitude of ways. By using modern technology the player can make secure deposits and withdrawals using debit or credit cards plus other payment methods. Many online casinos accept e-wallets, wire transfers and cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
Live dealer casinos
This is another area that makes use of technology to change the way that players use casinos. While you may not be able to return to a traditional casino just yet you can still experience having a real dealer run your game. Live casinos utilise webcams and other technology to allow a real life croupier or dealer to appear on your screen. You can interact with the dealer by chat, though she or he cannot see you. You can watch the cards being dealt in real time and follow the game as it unfolds. There are some casinos that let you interact with the other players too, but again only through chat.
VR may be the next biggest thing to really change the way people gamble. Although this technology has been around for a while it has not yet been fully utilised in the world of betting. Imagine a fully realised games room with a cashier, poker tables, roulette and slots like book of dead waiting for you to play on. Now imagine it in 3D with other players walking around, joining games and interacting with each other. This could be the closest to being in a real casino without actually visiting one. The only real downside is that you will have to make your own drinks.
Another area that is getting bigger in the gambling world is Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. While there is one casino in Cyprus that accepts bitcoin it is unusable in brick and mortar casinos generally. Online is another matter. There are many casino sites that accept only bitcoin and many others that allow it as an option. There are pros and cons to using Bitcoin to gamble. One advantage is anonymity. You can deposit money with no one seeing any of your financial or private details. A disadvantage is that the value of Bitcoin fluctuates and so your winnings may be worth less when you withdraw that what you initially won.
A major part of marketing casinos is the use of geolocation. Your smartphone is GPS enabled and a lot of those apps and games installed on your phone and tracking and storing your information. This can be sold on to digital marketers who use it to target individuals for certain products. So if you were looking for casinos online and you happened to live in London then you might start noticing adverts for casinos in London appearing when you surf the web. This is a great way for casinos to pinpoint people’s locations and habits and tailor specific offers to specific regions.
Although most casinos are not yet operating at normal capacity they have a history of using technology to improve the gaming experience of their customers and also to improve security for the casino. NFC or Near Field Communication is a one way that casinos lets the customer have a smooth and enjoyable visit. NFC is available on most smartphones and along with a casino app lets the user check in to the casino hotel with ease. They can then use the app to unlock the room, change the temperature and lighting too. The app can store your playing habits and allow the casino to send you targeted offers that you may want.
Modern technology has enabled anyone who is off legal age to be able to gamble online safely from almost anywhere. There is Virtual Reality in casinos, live dealers add a human touch and virtual roulette wheels so you can gamble at home while not worrying about breaking any health restrictions.