Online Gambling: What it will take to succeed in 2019?
As we close the door on 2018, we can look back and say the year was an incredibly good year for the online gambling industry.
Gaming platform developers continued releasing new titles, technology gurus continued to push innovation, and new online operators have set up shop all over the world. Now we are left to wonder what 2019 will bring.
The coming 12 months appear to be a mixed bag in terms of regulation and innovation. On the regulatory front, we are seeing everything from U.S. lawmakers trying to ban online gambling to Sweden liberalizing its gambling laws and issuing dozens of new licenses. For every jurisdiction attempting to promote online gambling there is another one trying to restrict it.
In terms of innovation, 2018 was an exciting year. Live games really came into their own thanks to a couple of well-respected developers deciding to go all-in on building studios and developing platforms. Sports betting has also seen very good growth in 2018.
All of us in the industry anticipate the momentum to continue into 2019 or beyond. We also expect to see a lot of new players attempting to get in on what is proving a highly competitive industry. Some will fail, others will succeed. What separates the two groups is how each one will approach the online gambling space. Those who succeed will do a few key things.
1. They will find and exploit a niche
One of the fundamental rules of business is to find a need and fill it. The rule is sometimes expressed as finding and exploiting a niche. It certainly applies in online gambling - to developers, operators, and affiliate marketers alike.
Game developers are the least concerned about this first principle given the fact that there is always room for more slot machines and table games. Still, there can only be so much variation in those standard game categories. That leaves new developers with a choice: try to compete with the big boys by improving on what they do or finding something to do that they aren't doing.
There is a lot of room here by way of live games. We already have a good offering of live roulette and blackjack, so new developers should look elsewhere. Perhaps a genuine Texas hold 'em game played against other live players rather than the house? It is something to consider.
Finding a niche is a bit more difficult for online operators inasmuch as they are beholden to game developers and their platforms, at least to some degree. But it is possible to carve out a niche by focusing on a particular type of game or a unique player experience.
On-site promotions and bonuses offer a way to develop a niche without having to stray from the ultimate goals of game developers. But promotions and bonuses can get costly. They have to be used with caution.
Affiliate marketing is the most wide-open in terms of finding and exploiting a niche. For example, consider the MegaMoolah.com website. Our niche is the Mega Moolah slot game from Microgaming. With that game as our foundation, the site is able to address all sorts of gambling related topics ranging from choosing the right online casino to gambling with bitcoin or other cryptocurrency.
The advantage affiliate marketers have is variety. There are so many niches as yet untapped that it's a matter of just choosing one and making it work. It will be interesting to see what new affiliates do in the coming 12 months.
2. They will embrace cryptocurrency
It's hard to imagine new online operators not succeeding in 2019 as long as they maintain regulatory compliance and take care of their customers. However, all indications seem to suggest that the online gambling industry is undergoing a paradigm shift in the arena of payments. Cryptocurrency could be the biggest thing gamblers are looking for as we turn the page on the new year.
A year ago at this time, bitcoin gambling was reserved for a small number of operators who garnered suspicion for their willingness to accept cryptocurrency. Those operators willing to accept bitcoin and/or other coins. were reluctant to mix cryptocurrency payments with fiat payments, so it was an all or nothing deal. Things have changed considerably in 12 months.
One of the most visible illustrations of this paradigm shift can be found in the Mega Moolah video slot. Until a few months ago, players could not play the game via cryptocurrency deposits. Because of Mega Moolah's progressive jackpot, Microgaming's license prohibited operators from accepting cryptocurrency deposits if they chose to offer Mega Moolah.
We do not know what happened, but those restrictions have since been relaxed. It is now possible to play Mega Moolah on a bitcoin-only casino and other casino sites while using bitcoin or another cryptocurrency to fund your bankroll via third party.
It's clear that online gamblers are demanding greater access via their favorite alt coins. New operators getting their first licenses in 2019 will find it easier to build a successful business if they embrace cryptocurrency. It is the payment wave of the future, so to speak.
3. They will choose their licences carefully
Next up, new operators and game developers destined to succeed in 2019 will choose their licenses carefully. All licenses require some degree of regulatory compliance, and the regulations in some countries are more cumbersome than in others. Online gambling in Europe provides a perfect illustration of this reality.
Consider the UK. Industry experts generally agree that the UK is the epicenter of online gambling in Europe. There are more gambling operators in the UK than anywhere else in that part of the world. That's mainly because the UK offers a very friendly tax environment and reasonable regulation. Getting a license to operate in the UK would be a smart move for any new operator.
Across the rest of Europe, operators and developers find themselves struggling between national regulations and official guidance released by the European Commission in 2014. Even now, the European Commission is trying to figure out how to deal with complaints of inconsistent regulations and a lack of enforcement. This is particularly troublesome for operators trying to satisfy the demands of multiple government entities that seem to be competing at times.
This would suggest that setting up new operations in EU countries requires taking a very good look at regulatory environments and enforcement. Obtaining a license in Sweden may be a good deal while staying away from countries such as France seems prudent.
4. They will push the technology envelope
The most successful new players of 2019 will succeed, in part, by pushing the technology envelope as far as it will go. Pushing technology should be a fundamental goal for everyone in the online space, given the fact that online gambling is only made possible by modern technology.
With that said, there are a few key areas of technology that could very well determine the future course of online gambling:
The technology that makes live streaming possible has given rise to live gaming. Online gamblers can now join live sessions of roulette, blackjack, baccarat, and other games being played in casinos and studios in real-time. Current technology needs to be exploited to make the experience more like a live entertainment event featuring multiple camera angles, integrated graphics, etc.
The online gambling industry's interaction with blockchain to date is limited to cryptocurrency payments. That is likely to change in 2019. It is quite possible that blockchain will make its way into backroom accounting and banking as well as actual game development. The industry could see a range of new games built on blockchain before the end of 2019.
The draw of online gambling is that it offers players the opportunity to gamble anytime, from anywhere, using a computer or mobile device. And yet, game developers and operators alike know that playing online is missing that one key element that keeps land-based casinos thriving: interaction.
To succeed in the coming year, developers and operators will have to find new ways to promote interaction between players, operators, and gaming platforms. Whether that means further developing the live environment or redesigning games so that they combine gambling with an interactive party atmosphere, interaction is what will keep players coming back time and again.
Onward and upward
We can look back on 2018 and measure online gambling revenues with relative certainty. We can go back and chart various regulatory changes and how they have altered the gambling landscape. We can even track the success of new developers, operators, and affiliates that first entered the market in 2018. What we cannot do is definitively prognosticate about 2019.
The coming year will have its own ups and downs. There will be new industry players who succeed alongside long-time veterans who fail. The glue holding them all together is the willingness to embrace whatever the future holds. Those who enter the space in 2019 will succeed only to the degree that they are willing to embrace the future without reservation.
Byline: This article was published by Mega Moolah expert Henry. Media and other enquiries.
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