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  1. On paper, the Asian market would appear to be one of the highest untapped online gambling markets currently in existence. It covers approximately 60% of the world’s population, boasts highly educated people with easy access to the latest technology and in many cases an impressive amount of disposable income. However, due to religious and political regions, many Asian countries hold a negative view of gambling in any form, only allowing it at land-based venues to make more money off their foreign visitors. To gain a better understanding of the specific views of major regions, what they currently allow and what developments are in the pipeline we discuss Asia under three headings: Asia’s Shining Stars: regions where gambling is thriving Diamonds in the Rough: regions most likely to allow online gambling Here Be Dragons: regions where all gambling is banned These heading refer to the region’s stance on gambling, whether they are open to online gambling or not will be discussed as part of its review. Asia’s Shining Stars While gambling faces opposition across most of Asia there are two regions where the pastime is welcome with open arms, Macau, and the Philippines. ✓Macau Macau (also correctly spelt Macao) is the hub of Asian gambling, often being referred to as the Las Vegas of East. Though while Las Vegas might have Macau beat when it comes to landmass the former Portuguese colony has been known to generate three times the revenue of Vegas, reaching nearly $30 billion in 2019. In addition to being a global tourist destination, Macau also serves as China’s gambling outlet. While gambling in China is strictly forbidden its citizens may travel to Macau to gamble without fear of reprisal. While gambling in Macau is open to all who land there the one area where there is still some resistance to online gambling. Much of this resistance is thought to be since so many Chinese business people gamble in Macau and the Chinese government concerns about controlling what its citizens do online. ✓Philippines When it comes to noteworthy eCommerce markets the Philippines is unlikely to make your top list however market research proves that this is an up and coming online sales hot spot. A recent market forecast report by Statista shows that online sales in the Philippines should surpass the $5 billion mark by the end of 2021. This sizeable investment in online retail is not purely from a small segment of big spenders. GlobalWebIndex reported that of the 110 million people living in the Philippines more than 69 million are regular internet users with 75% of those aged between 16 and 64 already active online shoppers. This bodes well for the potential of online gambling when one considers that not only does the Philippines have a well-regulated gambling economy, but it allows offshore casino operators to offer Online Slots and other casino games to Filipino players. There is some confusion regarding holding a Filipino license since two options are on offer. The country’s two gambling boards, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), each offer their own license. However, neither license allows the licensee to offer casino games within the border of the country. In an ideal world, PAGCOR and CEZA can create a joint license agreement that allows the operation of an online casino within the Philippines that can also target Filipino players. For now, offshore casinos are free to reap the benefits of the Filipino love of online shopping and entertainment. Diamonds In The Rough These Asian gambling jurisdictions may offer casino games but only under heavily restricted circumstances. While they are not free gambling markets with their proverbial “toe in the water” they are best positioned to pivot to an open-license system. ✓Hong Kong As with Macau, Hong Kong is seen as an administrative region of China. This means that while the region is afforded some level of autonomy China feels empowered to step in and change or amend laws as they see fit. This has led to Hong Kong having a thriving local gambling market where players over the age of 18 can gamble at any of the country’s approved venues. All land-based betting in Hong Kong falls under the monopoly of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. To enjoy a night playing blackjack, roulette or even the slots one will have to board a dedicated gambling cruise ship which then goes out beyond the island’s legal territory before any casino gambling can take place. Online gambling is once again heavily restricted due to China’s influence over Hong Kong. However, Hong Kong is currently undergoing a resurgence in the call for its independence from China. Should they succeed, this could see the online casino market become a key player in their financial growth. ✓India India is one of those territories that holds a lot of potential for offshore casino operators despite gambling being illegal in the country. The reason for this is their lack of clarity in formulating their laws. India’s Public Gambling Act (1867) and Prize Competition Act (1955) in no way address online gambling due to the era in which they were composed. Despite this, they are still the applicable gambling laws in the country. The government did write the Information Technology Act of 2000 into law however this fails to define either gambling or online gambling and does not specifically address whether games of chance or games of skill are legal or illegal. With a growing middle class, large scale internet penetration (specifically amongst mobile users) and a population of 1.3 billion adults (over 18 years of age) India is one of the hottest online gambling markets in the world. ✓Japan Historically gambling in Japan has been frowned upon as it was seen as a wasteful way to risk hard-earned money or property. However, in 2018 the government approved a change in the local laws which would allow for the development of three integrated casino resorts (IR). The recent plans to break ground on the first IR in Yokohama later this year came to a grinding halt when anti-casino mayoral candidate Takeharu Yamanaka won the election. However, there are still four other cities, Tokyo, Nagasaki, Osaka, and Wakayama, which are open to being the first casino resort in Japan. While it is early days for casino gambling in Japan the legalisation of a once-banned activity is a massive step in the right direction. And with casino operators such as Melco Resorts and Entertainment, Sega Sammy Holdings Inc, Shotoku Corp, and Genting, Singapore Ltd pushing the development ahead we are hopeful for the inclusion of an online casino app in their roadmap. ✓Vietnam Following Japan’s lead 2018 also saw Vietnam unexpectedly legalise betting on greyhound and horse races, begin accepting bets on soccer matches and open several land-based casinos to serve foreign visitors. The country is also currently testing the viability of allowing locals to gamble in these casinos given that they meet certain criteria such as a minimum income threshold. Given the country’s history of severely restricting gambling and punishing those who contravene its laws, this is a major breakthrough for the industry in Vietnam. While there is no specific intention to address online gambling in the immediate future, we are hopeful that the local gambling authority will view online and mobile casinos as a natural technological extension of its land-based casino development. Here Be Dragons There are several Asian territories where online gambling in any form is simply not looking to make any headway. These regions include: China Taiwan South Korea Malaysia These bastions of human rights and freedom are known to take punitive measures against citizens who gamble either online or offline, including prison time, heavy fines and even blacklisting at local financial institutions. Cryptocurrency and Gambling in Asia One of the game-changing new technologies for online gambling in restrictive Asian markets has the development and adoption of cryptocurrencies. When it comes to gambling with Bitcoin these casino fans finally have a way to get around the local government policies that block their ability to make deposits or request withdrawals when playing online. However, it is not only the those looking to circumvent local gambling regulation who are looking to Bitcoin and its peers. Asian markets that offer legal online gambling are considering the adoption of cryptocurrencies to reduce costs, offer safer and more secure gambling transactions and appeal to foreign gamblers once they leave the country and head home. It is expected that markets like the Philippines who have such an active eCommerce market could lead the way in gambling with crypto as local users begin to adopt altcoins and stable coins for daily online purchases. Where To From Here? While the road to a fully licensed and regulated Asian gambling market is a long and bumpy one there are some amazing developments with once hard locked regions opening their doors to casinos – even if only for foreign passport holders. Yet as these regions become comfortable with the idea of gambling, can prove that it does not undermine the fabric of their culture, and begins to add to the government’s coffers, there is hope for adoption to speed up. The more Asian countries become pro-gambling, the more opportunities it presents for online gambling to take hold and flourish.
  2. As lifelong fans of gambling and in particular online gambling it is fantastic to see how many countries are adopting a positive stance towards the hobby. Even if a region does not currently allow local licensing and advertising opportunities, they tend to adopt a ‘no harm, no foul’ approach which allows players to gamble at offshore casinos without any legislative requirements. In a 2021 review of the legal online gambling landscape Slotegrator reported that gambling regulation falls into one of four distinct categories: Those where gambling websites must be licensed by the local regulator (32 countries) Those where only local gaming sites need a license, not foreign sites (32 Countries) Those where online gambling is prohibited, but no legal action is taken against play at foreign sites (28 countries) Those where there are no gambling restrictions at all (93 countries) When looking at the European Union in the context of these categories is becomes clear that the majority of the member states have adopted or are investigating a multi-license regime. ✓EU Free Trade Supports Gambling Regulation For those who are unfamiliar with how the European Union works simply put it is an agreement between 27 member countries that make up most of continental Europe that aim to promote economic and political unity. As a response to the devastating impact of World War 2 on Europe, the European Economic Community (EEC) was created in 1958 to foster financial dependencies. The logic being that when countries are reliant on one another for trade the likelihood of aggression declines. According to a report by the EU Commission in 2021 “82% of products traded in the Single Market are subject to harmonised rules and some 18% of intra-EU trade in goods fall under mutual recognition”. Given that the EU free trade agreement is such a pivotal part of the makeup and longevity of the Union, online gambling became a hotly debated topic as the UK, who was still a member of the EU at the time, promoted full regulation and licensing and expected to be able to trade with its partners. Jurisdictional legislators such as Malta became highly respected markets who expected EU member states to recognise the validity of an MGA licensed casino to trade within the Union. Members that stood against regulated online gambling were seen to be contradicting the compact, and this early friction ultimately led to a burgeoning European online gambling industry. ✓EGBA Striving for Standardised Regulation As with any other multi-party endeavour one of the challenges members of the EU have had to face is how their differing definitions, requirements and even fee structures have become stumbling blocks for their peers. To assist in creating a unified logic to regulation and a set of standards the Brussels-based European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) was founded. “EGBA works together with national and EU regulatory authorities and other stakeholders towards a well-regulated and well-channelled online gambling market which provides a high level of consumer protection and takes into account the realities of the internet and online consumer demand.” To achieve a sustainable online gambling regime the EGBA strives to: Achieve a well-regulated and competitive market Define an ambitious set of European industry standards Build an integrity-based betting market Address betting-related match-fixing and corruption In addition to creating forums for discourse and staying on top of the day-to-day minutiae associated with tracking the gambling rulings and legislative decision making of 27 member countries the EGBA is also a founding partner of the EU Athletes program, a member of the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) and registered with the EU Transparency register since 2009. A July 2021 decision by the EU Commission to not reinstate the Expert Group on Online Gambling to assist regulators in coordinating their legal efforts could see the EGBA having an even more authoritative voice as it fills the role that the Commission renounced. ✓The French Gambling Legislation Interestingly enough when looking at online gambling regulation it is important not to interchange online gambling and online casino, especially if you are looking to play Online Slots in France. While many gambling sites will say that online casino is legal in France, they are in fact incorrect, however, it is correct to say that online gambling is legal in the country. This is because in 2010 France had a massive overhaul of its gambling law which both created the current body known as the Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) and legalised all forms of land-based gambling including casino games, card games, and sports betting. However, in an unexpected turn of events when addressing online gambling the regulation only made allowance for the licensing of online poker and online sports betting, while online games of chance remained a restricted category. ✓An Avid Gambling Community Despite the exclusion of online slots and other casino games, online gambling has flourished in France with La Française des Jeux (FDJ) being responsible for betting and lottery games, while Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) is specifically responsible for horse racing. The Q2 2021 report by BusinessWire on the financial results of the FDJ reported that the “digitalised and online stakes” showed an impressive 70% growth over its Q1 results reaching €1.1 billion in revenue from stakes of €9.2 billion. Stéphane Pallez, Chairwoman and CEO of FDJ, said: “Our stakes are increasing, both online and in our point-of-sale network. Over the half-year, we accordingly recorded an increase of nearly 9% in revenue compared with the same period in 2019. Barring new restrictions in response to developments in the health situation, the Group expects to maintain good momentum in the second half and is confident in its business and results prospects in accordance with its responsible gaming model.” These reports show that the FDJ’s online performance is tracking perfectly for the body to achieve its target of €2.2 billion for the year. Market analysts expect this to come from just over €19 billion in stakes. However, the growth in both player stakes and overall revenue for France’s online gambling market has raised the question of whether their reasoning for excluding online gambling was genuine. When the regulations were announced in 2010 ARJEL argued that games of chance held too high a risk of gambling addiction. That games like slot machines encouraged high engagement and participation, something they then claimed to be looking to actively discourage. However, with the €9.2 billion in stakes over six months it proves French gamblers are an engaged and active community. Despite numerous calls in recent years for other EU member states to open their borders to regulated online gambling, to protect locals and actively participate in the free trade compact France has silently refused to budge on the issue, deflecting the conversation around casino games to a discussion of regulated online gambling instead. In a decision that further confuses the matter, France declared that its citizens may gamble at international offshore casinos. Yet this puts them at risk of playing with casinos who do not adhere to EU safer gambling standards, reduces channelisation by not offering a casino game option for slots players, and driving revenues offshore which could be funnelled into programs that would uplift the French community such education programs and compulsive disorder treatment centres. ✓The Bitcoin Casino Stumbling Block France is one of the most progressive nations in the world and as such has been at the forefront of cryptocurrency adoption. The French are proud HODLERs with nearly 4% of the population owning Bitcoin, Ethereum and other digital tokens. Unsurprisingly the lion’s share of this ownership sits with wealthy, tech-savvy men and women in their late mid-twenties to mid-thirties. It should come as no surprise then that in the absence of regulation making online casino gambling illegal a large portion of the French casino market is turning to bitcoin casinos. Not only do they get to engage in leading online slots and tables games, but they stand the chance to withdraw even more of the valuable cryptocurrency in the process. However, July 13th saw a Parisian court rule that French ISPs had to block local users from accessing two cryptocurrency gambling sites. The ruling came of the back of a decision to hand over cryptocurrency regulations to Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), a securities watchdog with a specific brief to manage digital currency exchanges in the region. In this case while the casino games themselves were not the issue the ability to buy and sell cryptocurrencies in an unregulated marketplace saw the AMF flex its muscle and once again limit French players access to online casino entertainment. Once again, sane minds argue that if France would extend its current online gambling legislation to include online casino games, they could offer local players access to a secure crypto-exchange and secure a valuable revenue resource in the process.
  3. While the news cycle is filled with talk of cryptocurrencies such a Bitcoin, Ethereum, Cardano and even meme-tokens like Dogecoin and Shiba Inu, truly little of the media hype focuses on the real star of the show, blockchain technology. In many people's minds cryptocurrency and the blockchain are the same thing, which is not the case. The innovative way in which the blockchain stores, transmits and ultimately secures data is the foundational element upon which crypto-technology is built. In practical terms, while the mainstream media has been focusing on the cryptocurrencies and their incredible immediate financial value, development firms have been quietly working on using this amazing new technology to create new industries and improve existing ones. 7 Ways Blockchain Technology Will Improve Your Life There are hundreds if not thousands of ways in which blockchain tech can be used to refine and redefine the world around us. We have chosen to focus on seven industries that will benefit from blockchain integration based on recent developments or news stories. ✓Value-Driven Arts and Entertainment Piracy has never been easier thanks to the ability to scan, print and share just about any type of media online easily. This has led to ‘one of a kind’ artworks ending up as cheap prints on everything from mousepads to children’s toys. Artists are unable to protect their intellectual property rights and it has a measurable impact on their bottom line. Whether you are self-publishing a novel, realising a new album or creating your perfect painting once you release it into the world someone will make an illegal copy and try to profit from your skill and hard work. Thanks to the incredible security, peer-to-peer sharing and provable nature of blockchain interactions artists are now able to securely display, share and sell their creations safely, and when dealing with a third-party agent, transparently to ensure they receive full value. This new level of trust and transparency has been the catalyst behind the boom in NFT (non-fungible token) art sales. Where, for the first time in history, it is possible to provably own an original digital creation. This ensures that the artist receives fair value, agents must deal fairly with buyers and sellers and collectors are ensured that their purchase will retain value given the ability to legally prove theirs is the original artwork and not a fake. ✓Beating Scalpers with Digital Ticketing and Sales One of the most recent uproars online has been the rise of the digital scalper. Using blockchain technology to ensure patrons received tickets to highly sought after events, rather than scalpers, has proven to be highly effective for the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Florida. Assistant Vice President, Business Intelligence, Nicole Keating said: “While our work with True Tickets began as an initiative to keep tickets in the hands of our community and out of the hands of brokers, their mobile ticketing solution is, now more than ever, a critical component of our safety protocols.” An unexpected but positive spin-off has been their ability to offer contactless ticketing in a world recovering from the pandemic. Sadly, the reach of the scalping community has not been limited to ticket sales for events, as new age scalpers apply sophisticated algorithms to tracking the online releases of everything from the latest Nike trainers to NVidia’s 3000 series graphics cards. Using automated bots, these scalpers buy up all the available stock within seconds which then creates an artificial shortage. As has been the case with the release of Nvidia’s highly anticipated 3000 series GPU’s this has resulted in ‘resellers’ asking as much as $3000 for a graphics card that retails for $699. With a simple tweak of the blockchain code used by event hubs such as the Arsht Center, online retailers would be able to trigger individual smart contracts that ensured that each individual unit of a product sold online was going to an actual customer and not a platform looking to defraud the public. ✓Advancing the Potential of Ridesharing Despite being raised to never get in cars with stranger the cost-effectiveness of ridesharing combined with the ease of hailing a ride on short notice has seen the industry boom with start-ups like Uber and Lyft becoming multi-billion dollar companies while consisting of little more than some fairly basic technology, an app, and a control office. Yet the industry could be far more than what it is, and Arcade City is out to prove it. The innovative new rideshare hub is turning the industry on its head and using blockchain technology to do so. Inspired by the decentralised nature of the blockchain Arcade City CEO Christopher David began working on a model that better served the drivers and the people ordering their services. Rather than pre-setting rates and doling out contracts Arcade City allows the drivers to set their own rates, build recurring smart contract agreements with customers and even offer non-traditional rideshare services like deliveries, roadside assistance and more. This means that everyone from a student looking to work between classes and a small delivery business owner who needs additional income to pay his staff can all benefit from this decentralised blockchain-enabled opportunity. ✓Streamlined Banking Systems To decentralised currency evangelists the mainstream banking may be anathema, however, the reality is that the entire world runs on fiat currency systems and is underpinned by these traditional institutions. Three immediate areas that the blockchain could address are: Online identity verification systems – With the institution of protocols like Zero Knowledge Proof, an online user would only need to prove their identity at a single point. From there on that proof of identity is accepted by all other service providers on the blockchain. This reduces how far one’s personal data is shared enhancing your privacy, while still offering service providers and sellers the security of doing business with a trusted party. Financial clearing and payment settlements – With provable accounts, smart contracts, and the speed of transacting across the blockchain banks could begin to clear transactions and facilitate near instant global transfers while reducing costs by eliminating the multi-step processes that currently exist. Providing accounts for the unbanked – In poorer countries around the world there are estimated to be more than 2 billion people without access to any form of banking. Decentralised blockchain banking would allow secure, low cost, access for these people and allow them to receive international income to support their families and fight poverty. At its core banking is the simply the control, measurement, and facilitation of asset transfers between various private and public entities it can benefit greatly from the inherently secure and provable nature of blockchain transactions. The three items listed above are considered standard in any blockchain transaction, yet they would be revolutionary if applied to the traditional banking world. ✓New Era of Blockchain-Driven Advertising The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) postulates that by 2025 click fraud and other underhand tactics will have cost the digital advertising industry as much as $50 billion in lost revenues. Like every other industry the online advertising world is rife with fraudsters. The reality is that as soon as you hand over funds to a third party for access to a framework that obfuscates its mechanics you open yourself up to being taken advantage of. This becomes more likely the more you spend as it becomes less tenable to track each individual advertiser and their click data the more providers you must engage to meet your ad spend requirements. However, this is all null and void when the programmatic advertising platform is built on the blockchain. As all agreements are facilitated by smart contracts and each transaction is visible in its entirety to the person paying for the traffic it is simple to determine where your money is being allocated and to review the clicks that you have purchased. This will make click fraud incredibly difficult to facilitate, and should some genius work out how to do it, you have the visibility and the tools to shut it down immediately. ✓Voting in The People’s Choice The right to vote is the backbone of every democratic society around the globe. Yet, as the allegations of Russian tampering that clouded Donald Trump’s presidential term proved there is a level of distrust around traditional voting mechanics, their controls, and their final outcomes. As we discussed earlier with banking and online advertising the blockchain’s very construction ensures the secure transmission of data, offers the ability to prove the identity of each individual participating in the transaction, and finally offers provably fair data based on the information it has gathered. In practical terms this would allow for voters to be registered in an uncrackable blockchain database, using smart contracts allow them to vote privately and securely for their chosen politician, and finally allow the electoral body to report on who received what number of votes. The blockchain is the ideal platform for facilitating free, fair and unhackable democratically sound elections. ✓Safe and Secure Online Gambling As passionate fans of the online gambling community we cannot overlook to the benefits and advantages of blockchain gaming. Beyond the ability to stake wagers via Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies the blockchain is the ideal platform for hosting online casinos, online poker rooms, online bingo halls and sports books. Any blockchain-based gambling providers ensures: Your privacy – With the ability to store your data in an uncrackable decentralised environment your personal details and gambling history are guaranteed to be safe and secure. Provably fair gambling – The transparent nature of blockchain coding means that you can pull the server side results of each spin of the reels or deal of the cards. All blockchain-based casinos offer provably fair reports, so you have an obstructed view of your wagers and their outcomes. Secure money in and money out – Using blockchain based digital wallets to transact ensure that not only are your deposits processed instantly but they are untraceable. The same is true of your withdrawals as there is no delay in receiving your winnings once you cash out, and with the funds returning to the same secure wallet you deposited from they are also private. We can only hope that larger developers like Microgaming, Playtech and NetEnt begin to invest in transitioning their casino games from traditional gambling environments to blockchain based servers. While there is obviously a financial implication to this type of new technology shift there is no disputing that as blockchain adoption increases traditional server and hosting platforms will begin to diminish in favour of one that offers security, privacy, lower costs, and much higher speeds.
  4. Online gambling has been around for close to three decades now and has evolved and grown immensely over that time. Enhancements in technology have been one of the biggest motivating factors for these changes, coupled together with the demands from the player-base for increased innovation in keeping with these modern conveniences. The perfect example of this trend playing out can be found in the call for a mobile gambling market. Did you know? The first mobile gambling venture in the UK (the biggest iGaming market in Europe) was a mobile lottery, which launched in 2003. One of the most significant evolutions happening at the moment is the increased growth and influence of the cryptocurrency market. The popularity of crypto casinos is on the rise, thanks to the increasing technology in the blockchain world – a world dominated by a millennial generation that is comfortable adapting to fresh technology and ideas. In fact, they demand it! Because the future is in the hands of the current generation, tomorrow’s gambling market must evolve to meet their needs and desires, or it will die out. Current data suggests that sub-40-year-olds are not as drawn to mainstream casino games as older generations are and are more prone to enjoy the latest social gaming innovations from the crypto space. What is the Winning Recipe for the Future? To understand the future for crypto and general online casino gaming, we need to understand the subtle changes that are happening in the market right now. These are indicating factors of where the gambling market is going. Currently, all the communicating factors point towards the position that strong ‘’digital community’’ values are at the heart of this current and up-and-coming generation of players. Interaction online is becoming a major trend across various markets. Just look at a few of the obvious examples around us. Social Media Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are bigger than ever before and newcomer, TikTok, is making big waves. Billions of people use these applications daily to reach out to their friends and the greater world. Quick Fact: Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world. It boasts a massive 2.8 billion active users in the first quarter of 2021. These platforms provide the perfect setting for a digital communal environment. People can find their voice and link themselves to special interest groups and communicate with friends across the span of the globe in a matter of seconds. The social media craze is a real indicator that the current generation is a fan of digital community qualities. The Latest Video Gaming Crazes While single-player games were a lot of fun for those over 35 years of age when they were growing up, this is no longer the case. Today the most popular games in the world are all multi-player options. Games such as Roblox, Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Apex Legends draw millions of players around the world daily. All the pre-mentioned gaming brands have one thing in common – they are multi-player based. In fact, Fortnite, Warzone, and Apex Legends are all Battle Royale type games, meaning that players can team up with others to compete against other player-based teams. Technology like Discord and other team chat software applications even allow the gamers to talk to each other while playing. Why are these multi-player titles the most popular games right now? Because they all offer a social environment where people can interact with others. It seems like common sense that players exposed to such gaming environments would seek similar or better-quality gaming interactions when they graduate to the gambling sphere. ✓ The E-sports Boom One of the fastest-growing digital industries at the moment is e-gaming. This immerging market not only harnesses the qualities of one-on-one competition but affords fans the option to bet on the outcomes of the games. While e-sport is in its infancy, educated estimates predict that this fresh and fast-paced gaming market should reach a capitalisation of around $13 billion by 2025. Once again, the driving influence for this popular digital sport form is the fact that players compete against each other for a shot at the prize. In many games (like FIFA), each side can comprise of multiple gamers. It is no longer as thrilling to compete against a machine as it is to take on your peers head-to-head. It seems that even in the world of machines and high-end tech that basic human qualities will endure, albeit that the social trends are a little different from the norms of generations gone by. ✓ Live Casino and Poker Trends Closer to home, two of the quickest growing game options at online casinos are online poker rooms and live dealer games. Evolution Gaming has taken the world by storm and is a heavyweight in international gambling circles. They just recently acquired gaming giant, NetEnt, for a massive sum. The recipe behind the company’s success has been its ability to join real people together in a casino environment for a common cause. The social interaction involved makes live table games and gameshow titles very popular. Virtual table game libraries are shrinking on casino sites while live game portfolios are growing. Did you know? Trends amongst younger gamblers show that live casino games such as Live Monopoly, and other such gameshow titles are firm favourites in the live dealer marketplace. Online poker similarly offers a social aspect to the game. While the dealers are not visible via stream, multiple players can take seats at the virtual tables and interact via a live chat tool. Online poker has exploded thanks to fabulous social poker sites like PokerStars. ✓ The Outcome The simple fact is that the current generation loves technology and can spend hours lost in the digital realms. However, they remain human and therefore crave interaction as social beings. A platform that can combine this form of entertainment with the necessary interaction qualities is onto the winning solution for the future. Up until now, the crypto casino world has done a sterling job in identifying this need and working towards placating its punters. Why Does Crypto = Community? There are few good reasons why cryptocurrency and crypto casinos are on the cutting edge of the social gambling trend and why they are community-friendly. These include: Multi-Player Games: There are a number of casino games coming from the decentralised market that focus on multi-player playability. They are extremely popular. As a relatively new tech in casino realms, blockchain-based casinos are usually frequented by younger players. Power to the People: Decentralised blockchain technology removes the need for a trusted middleman. This ideology directly empowers the people and encourages person-to-person interaction and trade. It implements a return to a more basic and personal way of life. Us against the world: The crypto world is very misunderstood and often shunned by mainstream finance, much like the current millennial generation is misunderstood by the ‘boomers’ who have gone before it. Both the platform and the people have an ‘’us versus the world’’ outlook on life. A common cause is usually a great unifier and brings communities closer together. One thing we can learn from crypto is that the next generation is eager for change. A change that sees a move away from isolated gaming experiences and embraces a more social and inclusive environment. What We Hope to See Soon The crypto realms are already on the right path and are quite likely to lead the way ahead. This is what we hope to see happening soon. ✓ More Innovative Multi-Player Games Now that we know what the industry needs to attract the next generation, we hope to see more and more mainstream and blockchain-based game providers introduce such games into the marketplace. Spearhead Gaming’s debut arcade/gambling game, Astroboomers: To the Moon, is a classic example of the type of entertainment we need to attract the up-and-coming player base. We also hope to see advanced mechanisms for players to share their accolades and wins within groups and special social media platforms. This alone provides great incentives for more competitive player types. ✓ Increased Usability at Crypto Casinos The practical issues involving high costs for microtransactions need solving to bring the crypto casino market to its full potential. Quick Fact: Ethereum launched a second blockchain platform called ‘’Ethereum 2.0’’ to try and solve the high transaction fee dilemma facing the usability of Ether for smaller transactions. Right now, decentralised blockchains cater better to big funds transfers than to multiple small ones. Blockchains, like Ethereum, are leading the way towards this sort of usability. ✓ Increased Education on Crypto Tech ‘An informed people are a happy people,’ according to a wise old adage. More education about crypto-realms and the qualities of the blockchain would go a long way towards the evolution and enhancement of the current online industry and influence current player bases to make the change. This should include a change of ideology to follow current social trends and an increased willingness from mainstream operators to adopt cryptocurrency as a form of tender on their sites. Round-Up One thing is for certain, the online casino industry has proven itself resilient over the years. Its ability to change and adapt is demonstrated in its year-on-year revenue growth. Its versatility is sure to continue as leading brands place big money into monitoring current trends and ensuring they stay on the cutting edge of innovation. Journey with us, at GamblersPick, as we keep you up to date with all the latest trends and introduce you to all the newest innovations and technologies as they drop.
  5. While the adage "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" would have you believe that there is no real difference between gambling online or at your local casino, that simply is not true. While land-based casinos do offer certain benefits like the potential to get free drinks, be comped a meal, and the experience of a night out “on the town”, playing at an online casino offers far more benefits for both experienced and beginner gamblers to enjoy. Why Gambling Online is the Best Here are 10 reasons why we believe online casinos trump their land-based peers every day of the week: 1. Perfect Environment for New Players Most online casinos offer free to play versions of the real money games they have on offer. This is the perfect way for new players to get to grips with the mechanics, features and bet sizes of any game they intend to play for real money later. Not only can you play these games for free, but each game comes with handy in-game hints and a detailed help file that explains everything from what each button does to how wins are determined and the games specific return to player percentage. 2. Online Casinos Offer Better Payouts The simple fact of the matter is that the House always has an advantage, whether playing online or at a land-based gambling venue – the trick is optimising that advantage as best possible. This is where online casinos beat out their brick and mortar counterpart’s hands down. Land-based casinos must cover the costs of running sprawling complexes which include restaurants, bars, clubs and all the staff to man these various activities. Online casinos only have support staff and tech-related costs which cost a fraction of what it takes to run an offline casino. This is why online casinos offer payouts of around 96%, this means the average house edge is as low as 4%. 3. Incredibly Range of Online Slots Slot machines are by far the most popular game type whether you choose to play online or offline, this is due to their wide range of themes, interactive features, payline options and jackpot win potential. Plus, individual developers each offer something unique to give their slots even more appeal. Big Time Gaming created their Megaways system offering up to 117,649 ways to win, Microgaming offers incredible progressive jackpot wins on their Mega Moolah slots and so much more. 4. Gamble When It Suits You Unlike online casinos which are open all year round, not all local casinos offer 24/7 access to their games. By playing online you can hop onto your favourite slot machine or play a few hands of blackjack whenever it is best for you. Oftentimes it is also simply not possible to coordinate getting to a casino venue at conventional times given the demands placed on our time by work, travel, family and more. In this instance being able to relax over a cup of coffee and a few spins of the reels when you have downtime available to you is an important feature. When you add this to the fact that you can play on your mobile device online gambling offers the most comprehensive, customer-first, gambling experience you could hope for. 5. Live and Play on Your Mobile The mobile device is far more than just a phone these days, we all run our lives from these tiny handheld computers. Online casinos understand this and offer an engaging gambling experience right there in the palm of your hand. Best of all thanks to high-quality apps and HTML5 these casinos offer the same entertainment on your device as they do when you play on your laptop or desktop computer. Allowing you to gamble whenever and wherever you want to. 6. There is Always a Seat for You A very real downside to gambling at a land-based venue, especially in smaller towns, is limited seating or access to popular games. At an online casino, whether you are playing at peak traffic times or in the middle of the night, your favourite casino table or online slot will be waiting for you to dive right in. This is equally true of buying additional casino chips while playing your favourite game. Online casinos allow you to easily top your chip stack from within the game you are playing rather than expecting you to get out of the action to go get more chips as you would at your local casino. 7. Fantastic Casino Bonus Selection Receiving bonuses at a land-based casino is highly unlikely for a new player. All new players at reputable online casinos will receive some form of welcome bonus. This bonus acts both as a gift basket to make you feel at home and as a safety net with which you can test out casino games without risking your own money. These casino bonuses will include deposit match bonuses, Free Spins, no deposit bonuses, wager free bonuses or a combination of these. Once you are a regular at the casino you will be able to avail yourself of reload bonuses, cashback and Loyalty bonuses. 8. Choose When to Play with Others A big part of ensuring your mental health though, especially during lockdowns is having the choice to play with others when you need contact and give yourself space when that is more important. One of the fastest-growing niches within the online gaming industry is the live casino sector. This allows players to step away from purely RNG casino games to enjoy the experience of interacting with a live dealer and the players around the table. As the market appetite for live games has grown so developers like Evolution Gaming have stepped up to grow their selection beyond traditional games like blackjack, roulette, and craps, to include custom games like Monopoly Live, Deal or No Deal Live and Mega Ball. 9. Protect Your Privacy with Bitcoin For players who are looking to further enhance the privacy and security offered by online gambling, there is the option to gamble at a Bitcoin casino. These sites are built on the blockchain, offer provably fair gambling, and ensure that your transactions are hidden from prying eyes thanks to Bitcoin’s incredible encryption. This is over and above any other measures, one can take online to protect their search histories and online banking by using virtual private networks (VPN) to connect to the internet. 10. Safety First When making the decision whether to play online or go to a local casino one must consider the potential health risks. Given the current situation we all find ourselves in, it is prudent to avoid crowds of people and rather play from home. With the ease of access to multiple casinos and swathes of cutting edge casino games, not to mention the bonuses and 24/7 personal support, there is very little reason to play at a land-based casino when with the click of a button you can enjoy world-class entertainment from the comfort of your home.
  6. In the online gambling world, few game types take as much intricate planning to produce as Online Slots. Increasing innovation and technological enhancements have made playing video slots super exciting. The special graphic effects, sounds, and features developed over the past few years have been entertaining and have inadvertently churned up a heated and competitive market space. Did you know? In the USA, the latest stats show that nearly half of all casino visitors play slots. The trends are not set to change either, as a new generation is entering the market. These players have grown up on video games and are likely to engage better with slots than other game types. Quick fact: Online gambling stats in the UK show that young adults between the ages of 25 and 44 years old dominate the gambling player market. This is sure to make an impact on gambling trends. It is believed that online slot games will rule the casino world for years to come. We can expect to see so much more from this sector. Each year, the quality of the games improves, and the diversity of features and mechanics grow. This has us excited about the prospects for 2021! Let’s take a look at what we can expect in the slot world this coming year. ✓ Bitcoin is Booming! Decentralised casinos are a big thing right now, especially with all the attention that Bitcoin is getting in the finance sector thanks to its hefty growth over the past year. This has resulted in a healthy introduction of casino start-ups in this segment. With a push for a more transparent gaming environment, Game developers in this segment are introducing more and more titles with provably fair algorithms built into the RNG software. This way players can validate that each game is random and fair. Quick Fact: With provably fair games, the game developer provides specific tools for players to use that grant them access to the software’s open-source code. Gamblers can check to make sure that no alterations are made to the RNGs algorithms while a spin of the reels is underway, thereby proving that the result is unmanipulated and random. For this reason, we can expect that far more provably fair online slot games will enter the marketplace over the course of 2021. This is sure to set a strong trend for greater transparency in the casino market, as a whole. ✓ Mobile is Mapping the Future While mobile gaming is not new to the online gambling industry, we expect that far more players will be turning to “on the go” gaming options in 2021. More and more people are acquiring mobile phones year on year, which bodes well for gambling statistics. Did you know? Many top gaming providers are developing their games for mobile-first, in keeping with the obvious trends in this market. More and more people are using their mobile phones to manage every part of their lives. From watching Netflix to diarising their days and spending time on social media. It is only natural that these same people would use their handsets to play their favourite online slot games too. ✓ Keep an Eye on AR and VR Technology Virtual Reality entered the market a few years ago, providing players with a far more immersive way to play slots. Players could actually enter into the virtual world of the game by donning special headgear. They could control the mechanics with hand gestures which would be relayed back to the gaming software via sophisticated sensors. The main reason that VR did not catch on then was that the hardware was very expensive to purchase and not everyone could afford the tech needed for it. New tech is always over-inflated when it comes to cost, but we can hope to see these prices normalise soon. The implementation of VR for mobile is a far more cost-effective alternative as well, so expect to see VR’s possible return this year. Augmented Reality (AR) is another engaging gaming alternative to watch out for. The technology uses overlays in the mobile app software to superimpose an augmented reality over your present environment, which is visible on your phone’s screen. Did you know: One of the most popular Augmented Reality games still played today is Pokémon Go. While it is not a gambling title, it provides us with the perfect example of how slots may play out in the near future. We said earlier that this was the year for mobile technology innovation, and this may be two ways in which “on the go” gameplay might steal the show in 2021. ✓ Enhancements in 3D Imagery The noticeable demand for titles in video gaming culture has been for games that look more realistic. The better the graphics and effects, the more popular games tend to be. This is becoming the norm among modern video slot players too. This is also one of the reasons that games like Gonzo’s Quest are timeless classics. Here, 3D imagery was used to provide a cinematic-like experience for its players. With enhancements in CGI, game developers have all the tools at their disposal to create ground-breaking strides in the graphics department. Quick Fact: CGI stands for Computer Generated Imagery. It is a popular form of technology used to enhance the special effects visible in movies and TV programs. It is based on the 3D imagery that we are seeing more and more in video games and slots today. Keep your eye on the line up of games each month to earmark the stacks of ‘pretty’ games we are expecting will arrive this coming year. ✓ AI to Handle Slot Security The standards of security are set for enhancement this year, as game developers and online casinos opt for AI-backed protection for their players. Quick Fact: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a computer science that uses machine learning protocols to undertake smart actions that would normally require human intelligence. In many sectors, AI is used to greater effect than a human workforce, because of the speed of transactions possible through the software mechanics. Artificial Intelligence protocols will be able to pick up on suspicious activities and hacking risks within seconds and move to resolve/neutralise the issues that players are facing in real-time. The Promise of More While the forecasting for the future of the slot industry is no exact science, all the trends suggest that the above technologies and innovations will be metered out over the next few years. One thing is certain though – This year promises advancements in the iGaming realms and is bound to build upon the innovations of last year to give us something more than we had in the past.
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