How Gamification is Changing the Face of Online Gambling

Online gambling has improved in leaps and bounds since the first online casinos began to appear in the early 2000s. Advancements like the introduction of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies have helped to bring an extra layer of trust to the industry while exposing it to a greater audience. By removing the need to provide sensitive banking and personal details, cryptocurrency has opened up online gambling to players from countries where it was previously impossible. This has driven huge amounts of fresh capital into the market which in turn has given developers the financial means to add exciting new additions to games.

It is now estimated that the online gambling market, which covers online casinos, pokies, and sports betting, will reach $100 billion by 2025. That's a huge step up from the $46 billion it was measured to be worth in 2017, with a predicted growth of over 11 percent per year. The growth can largely be attributed to advancements in technology and internet availability combined with changes in societal perception of both gambling and online gaming. Mobile phone apps have helped adults and young people alike to embrace both digital money and gaming, which together are a huge driving force behind the growth in the online gambling industry.

The popularity of gaming and its influence on gambling

Since the turn of the century, video games have swiftly moved away from being a guilty pursuit enjoyed by young 'nerds' and become a mainstream activity played by people of all ages around the world. Nowadays, mobile phones have become handheld gaming devices for many people, with games accounting for 74% of app spending in 2018. The online gaming and e-sports industry is now a professional multimillion-dollar business with corporate sponsorships, tournaments, and huge prizes - validating computer games like never before.

In 2019, the online gambling industry is also slowly evolving to incorporate elements of gaming into its platforms, bringing a whole new dimension to the experience. With gamification, players are given the ability to improve their skills within certain games and, as such, improve their chances of winning.

Previously, only table card games like poker and blackjack gave players with better skills a greater chance of winning but now roulette, dice, slots and other games of chance can benefit from an added layer of skill. Players can engage with online characters and delve into storylines where they must take on challenges or compete with other players to win more spins or achieve bonus add-ons. These days, loyalty and rewards point systems are commonly integrated into gamified platforms and used as the basis for prizes or additional incentives to ensure customers return.

The gaming and gambling crossover

These types of games and others like them are often seen listed along with commonly found slot games on gambling rating and review websites. Many are designed along with themes based on popular movies or series, with characters and original music to heighten the experience. An E-loyalty study from Harvard Business School found that the cost of acquiring customers requires three years of loyalty to break-even and most customers leave before then. For this reason, online gambling can benefit greatly from gamification if it provides players with an incentive to return to a game that they want to finish.

In a similar vein, some online computer games are beginning to incorporate elements of gambling into their platforms. The hugely popular Grand Theft Auto Online, which enjoys an average player count of around 100,000 at any given time, recently launched an in-game casino called the Diamond Casino and Resort. Players can purchase virtual 'GTA dollars' with real money and compete against the casino's virtual croupiers or other real players in the game.

The complex, 3-dimensional casino features a wide range of games like those found in most online casinos - including blackjack, poker, slots, and roulette - while also benefiting from a bar, lounge, and virtual swimming pool. However, unlike most real online casinos, players can't cash out their winnings into real money - they can only use them to make in-game purchases in other parts of the game.

As the prevalence of gamification continues to change the face of online gambling, we'll likely see the lines between gaming and gambling continue to blur. Soon, players will be using VR headsets to play against virtual croupiers while also secretly planning a gamified heist of the casino in cahoots with other players as part of an immersive 'Ocean's Eleven'-style gambling experience.