Every year, multiple research firms publish their assessments on the state of the global gambling market and its future. While the numbers featured in these reports differ, mobile gaming and blockchain technology always get listed as this industry's driving forces. These two are a constant, the sector’s growth fuel. Each era has its engines that turn its revenue wheels, and we are living through one where digital coins and smartphones are changing the world.

Online casinos appeared on the scene in 1996, when CryptoLogic developed the first financial transaction system suitable for online gambling. The name of the first platform was InterCasino, and it is still active today. In the first decade of its existence, this industry was relatively stagnant when it comes to the introduction of novel concepts. However, over the last one, it has exhibited numerous transformations. Each year hundreds of international and top-ranking USA online casinos enter its fold, morphing the sector’s appearance an increment at a time. Hereunder are some of the interactive gaming trends online gamblers can expect to see as this decade unfolds.

Online casinos in virtual worlds

In March, Atari, the legendary video game developer, sent out a press release announcing its collaboration with Decentral Games to build a virtual casino. The site of this venue will be in Vegas City, located inside the Ethereum-based metaverse, Decentraland. Atari has a two-year lease on the property, and it should launch its virtual gaming establishment in May of this year.

Decentraland is a digital ecosystem where players can inhabit an avatar body and interact with others active within this world. According to Atari, their spot in Vegas City will be the first community-owned metaverse crypto casino. With NFTs, or non-fungible tokens taking off, many are expecting a virtual real estate boom to happen soon. According to NonFungibl, in February, eight lots in the platform Axie Infinity sold for $1.5 million, the most expensive virtual land sale ever. Many expect that top-brand gambling operators will follow Atari’s example and take the virtual plunge.

Cryptocurrencies set to overtake fiat ones     

Going by some articles, the first Bitcoin casino appeared in 2013, four years after the inception of this form of digital money. Though, several 2014 platforms claim that they are the original coin-based gambling site. Thus, the origin of these casinos remains muddy. However, in recent times, there has undoubtedly been an uptick of crypto-exclusive sites as blockchain technology continues to integrate into industries worldwide.

In March, Visa announced that it is opening its doors to crypto payments, bridging the worlds of digital and traditional fiat currencies. The move is crucial to the company’s strategy to improve money movement on their network and beyond. Of course, this has ramifications related to the online gambling sphere, where credit/debit cards remain the most popular and accessible payment option. Given that coin transfers are anonymous and super-fast, they are steadily growing in popularity among players. It will not be before long when top brands begin promoting their use over established methods.

Skill-based gambling

Incorporating a skill-based aspect into slots is a topic discussed for over a decade. However, it entails a different set of regulations than chance-based gambling, which has derailed this genre’s progress. Nevertheless, in 2016, the land-based industry made massive strides by gaining approval to incorporate such machines in Nevada and New Jersey venues. GameCo, a company behind many of these games, recently also managed to bring similar titles into the online sphere.

In July of 2020, GameCO, the self-proclaimed inventor of video game gambling, received approval from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to partner with New Jersey online casinos, bringing skill-based titles into their gaming arsenals. GameCo’s physical machines operate in locales in California, Nevada, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, but this is the first time the company has gotten online regulatory approval. Many are hopeful that this will spark the skill-based genre, which will entice a whole new set of players to start visiting internet casinos. Currently, Betsoft’s Max Quest series is the closest thing to skill games in the iGaming space. These are RNG-based shooter games, where you target enemies en route to prizes.

Virtual reality slots

In 2016, when Facebook released the Oculus Rift headset, everyone thought that VR gaming would explode in popularity. However, things did not work out that way. Isle of Man’s Microgaming quickly jumped on this trend, winning innovation awards for its roulette VR iteration. Nevertheless, it did not gain wide acceptance, and VR technology at online casinos remained dormant for a while.

Now NetEnt, which operates under the Evolution banner, will unleash Gonzo’s Quest VR onto the world. A virtual reality version of one of the most popular slots ever. In 2019, Playtech attempted to enter this genre with its Hot Gems title with little success. What is different this time around is that NetEnt is hitching its buggy onto one of the most established iGaming heroes, Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Pizzaro. At least, the slot version of him. Naturally, we must take a wait-and-see approach. Though going by the previews, this reel-spinner should be exhilarating to play via a headset. It brings a whole new dimension to a familiar world and will hopefully kick start the VR trend in interactive gaming.

More complex provably fair games

Provably fair games are staples at crypto gambling sites. They differ from other RNG-based titles in that they feature a provably suitable gambling system, through which the operator publishes a method for verifying each game transaction. Once you play a session or round, you can use the system’s algorithm to test the game's response to in-game decisions. Then, you can analyse the results via the published hashes and seeds that the algorithm uses. In short, these gaming products allow you to check that the outcome of every round has not been tampered with and is fair, making cheating impossible.

For now, these games are simple ones. The most popular provably fair title is crypto dice. It lets you select an over or under amount, and an RNG produces an arbitrary number that decides if you win or lose. However, in recent times, some crypto gambling platforms have begun incorporating rudimentary slots that use this system, and others are innovating creative games that you know are 100% trustworthy. So, expect to see developers fusing provably fair systems with releases that feature more complex gameplay soon.

Smartwatch casinos

Smartwatch gaming platforms are not a new thing. The first watch games got introduced at the World Mobile Congress in 2014. Microgaming, the father of online gambling software, was the first provider to roll out a smartwatch-compatible game. Its debut titled Thunderstruck gained a decent level of notoriety with slot and smartwatch enthusiasts. The Dark Knight Rises followed, and it enthralled players even more.

Note that, currently, the number of online casinos optimized for smartwatches is small. The screens of these devices are far smaller than your regular mobile phone. Thus it is hard to fit a lot of content onto such a small screen size. Acumen Research and Consulting anticipate that the global smartwatch market will reach $88 billion by 2027, expanding at an annual rate of 20 per cent. Interactive gaming operators are taking note of these figures and are looking for ways to fit their platforms onto watches, adding even more convenience to casino play. In the years to come, we do not doubt that this field will innovate to a point where current challenges will be a thing of the past.

To wrap up

These are exciting times for the online casino industry. Blockchain technology seems like it will be the chief wave producer in this sector in the coming years. Virtual casinos and digital money will for sure reshape the internet gambling experience sooner than most players think. Social casinos are making noise as well, as app developers are looking to transfer the casino feel onto social games, where fictional fun chips replace real ones. However, these apps offer a ton of entertainment and are accordingly generating a lot of interest. Look out for VR slots, novel live dealer games, and more complex provably fair titles. There will likely be a storm of all these coming soon.

About the author

Shelly Schiff has been working in the gambling industry since 2009, mainly on the digital side of things, employed by OnlineUnitedStatesCasinos.com. However, over her 11-year career, she has provided content for many other top interactive gaming websites. She knows all there is to know about slots and has in-depth knowledge of the most popular table games. Her golden retriever Garry occupies most of her leisure time. Though, when she can, she loves reading Jim Thompson-like crime novels.

Disclaimer: Play responsibly. Players must be over 18. For help visit https://www.gamcare.org.uk/

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