Key online casino trends identified for 2018 after analysts review 450 million gambling transactions

  • Key trends include growing shift to mobile and responsible gambling responsibility
  • Customers growing tired of delays in signing up and logging in to accounts

Analysts have described 2018 as a year of dramatic change for online casinos, and that could have impacts on players directly.

Sarah Harrison of the UK Gambling Commission, which has announced a probe into 17 online casino operators over money laundering and responsible gambling concerns.
Regulators are going to have a key influence in the market in 2018, according to analysts.

And the key trends for the year appear to be a growing use of mobile, as well as a growing lack of tolerance among players for a cumbersome and long-winded logging in and sign up processes.

In the report analysts Iovation studied 450 million transactions across 100 online gambling operators to draw conclusions.

Another finding was that players in the UK and Europe may also see less information collected about them, thanks to the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which is already having impacts on operators.

The push and pull of fraud prevention and ease of access

One of the great challenges for the industry is to give players a smooth and easy sign up process, but still extracting the necessary data from that player to make sure they are a genuine person and not a fraudster or engaging in criminal activity – a process known as Know Your Customer (KYC).

Iovation’s evidence suggested that players were becoming increasingly tired of having to fill in forms and send off other pieces of personal information, especially in an era where biometric verification like retina or fingerprint scanning is the norm.

So any sense of ‘friction’ in the online casino experience for players is seen as a bad thing, but on the other hand, operators are now under more pressure to stamp out fraudulent activity and money laundering.

And then there’s responsible gambling

If players are keen for their online casino experience to be quick and easy, that intitutively runs counter to enhanced levels of responsible gambling practice that are expected to be enacted throughout 2018.

In a bit to stamp out problem gambling, regulators the UK Gambling Commission want to see operators take a much more proactive approach to keeping players safe.

While that will involve giving players the tools to manage their gameplay, such as self exclusions, cool off periods and setting various deposit, loss and time limits, it will also inevitably involve the operator directly having to intervene and potentially stop someone from gambling.

The level of data monitoring, using advanced algorithms and even AI, may mean more ‘friction’ in the playing process, as casinos may be forced to give players reminders, or even put barriers in the way of their gambling.

As Sky Bet chief Richard Flint said this month, what those interventions look like is not yet clear. He called for clarity on best practice, and admitted that it may be a case of trial and error for many online casino and betting firms.

He also admitted those interventions might frustrate players and cause loss of revenue, but that it was a price that may have to be paid in the interests of a ‘sustainable industry’.

Rise of mobile

The rise of mobile in online gambling will surprise no one, but extent represents a total sea-change in how those services are now delivered.

The shift to mobile gambling is astonishing. Source: 2018 Iovation Gambling Industry Report.
The shift to mobile gambling is astonishing. Source: 2018 Iovation Gambling Industry Report.

According to Iovation In 2012, just six years ago, mobile accounted for 6% of transactions, while in 2017 it accounted for 62% of transactions.

But players still use other devices and demand a consistent experience across all of them. Even inserting a username and password is now considered seriously negatively, as players want one-touch betting – but with all the necessary security built in.

Now Google has relaxed its rules on real money betting apps, expect the shift to mobile to accelerate still further with Android devices.

Self exclusion

A big trend in 2017 was the rapid rise in self exclusions – which was positive for players in the sense that they were actively taking control – but negative in the fact they felt the need to do it in the first place.

The robustness of self exclusion is another key area of focus for regulators.

In the UK, the Gamstop tool, which will self exclude a player from every gambling operator with a UK license is due for rollout in the early part of this year.

Gamstop will allow players to self exclude from all gambling operators regulated by the UK Gambling Commission in one simple step.
GAMSTOP will allow players to self exclude from all gambling operators with a UK license.
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