Top 5 Online Gambling Trends 2023
As we begin a new year, let’s look ahead to the most likely online gambling trends in 2023. The online gambling industry is well-established within the United Kingdom but there’s always room for innovation. Simply looking back at years gone by should show just how far we’ve already come – online casino sites didn’t even exist in the early 90s, for example. Nowadays, slot machines, online casino games and online betting are firmly in the UK mainstream.
What will 2023 have in store for online casinos?
In this short article, we’ll look at the UK gambling industry as it stands. Then, we’ll look into our crystal ball and predict five trends we’re confident will happen during 2023. For starters, we don’t see virtual reality, VR headsets and augmented reality being mainstream at online casinos anytime soon. On the flip side, we are keeping a keen eye on the impact of crypto exchange collapses on crypto casinos and other forms of crypto gambling. Finally, we’ll look at what industry experts think about paying by phone. And we’ll go into more detail about live casinos, mobile gambling and online sports betting. But first, let’s get the lay of the land…
The State of Play: UK Online Gambling Industry Statistics 2022-23
According to the latest gambling industry statistics from the UK Gambling Commission, around 15 million people gamble at UKGC-licensed sites in the UK. That’s equivalent to the number of people who visit museums or galleries each year. In other words, a significant part of the UK population. However, the most interesting this is to see the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. During the peak years of the former, the number of male gamblers fell, while the number of female gamblers stayed constant.
The move to online casinos (and away from land-based casinos) inevitably increased during the pandemic. While many land-based casinos closed their doors, online casinos flourished. This trend has continued even after the pandemic lockdowns and other rules were relaxed.
However, what’s most shocking is that online gambling spend has increased more than expected. And this is in spite of the more recent cost-of-living crisis. So, it seems that, while the number of online gamblers have dipped slightly compared to pre-pandemic levels, the spending has gone up. This suggests that more people are spending more at online casinos. And now online slots account for around £3 billion in Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) compared to just £1.6 billion in 2015-16. Spending is increasing faster than the number of UK gamblers.
GamblingAuthority’s Top 5 Online Gambling Trends 2023
We collaborated to get a consensus on our top 5 predictions for the online casino industry. These are a mix of the most expected developments and the ones that might be surprising. However, each one is based on online casino trends that are already in motion. Let’s begin…
Online casinos dominate traditional brick-and-mortar casinos
The numbers of online casino players in the UK are similar to those choosing land-based casinos. However, overall numbers of online players haven’t reached the latter’s pre-pandemic levels. The latest statistics show that 18% of UK gamblers play online, with another 18% choosing in-person gambling. Five years ago, most players (in fact, double) chose land-based casinos over online casinos. But, the gap has been closing with each passing year…
Over the last decade, online casinos have risen in popularity – with the curve looking more and more exponential over time. However, the percentage of those playing online hasn’t quite reached the pre-pandemic level of in-person gambling (24%). Over the next year, though, we think that the popularity of online games will eclipse those offered in the real world.
Mobile casino games and mobile apps to gain in popularity
With internet access above 95% in the UK, more and more players are choosing a mobile gaming experience over their bulkier desktops and laptops. The sheer convenience, as well as having casino games, sports betting and live games available around the clock, means mobile gambling will only increase with time. Plus, slot machines and other casino games are perfectly suited to the more tactile nature of multi-gesture smartphones like the iPhone.
As for smartwatch integration, we can’t see too much happening. There just isn’t enough space for any meaningful information to be displayed on a smartwatch like Apple’s Watch. Having said that, we can see simple authorisations such as a repeat casino bonus or sports bet being flashed up for a simple tap to confirm. But currently, that doesn’t seem like something compelling enough to warrant the extra development time. But, only (ahem) time will tell.
Live dealer games to take over from RNG table games
Virtual casino games based on roulette, blackjack and the like serve a purpose. And the improved graphics of recent years has no doubt aided this experience. However, RNG titles are slowly declining in popularity. And the reason is fairly simple. Live dealer games are one of the fastest-rising genres at UK online casino sites. Of course, trends change, but we can’t see this one doing a U-turn anytime soon. Plus, live streaming from famous land-based casinos is giving gambling aficionados another way to get the real deal while playing from home.
Pay by phone to overtake traditional payment methods
While credit cards are banned at UKGC-licensed casinos and e-wallets offer a great alternative, another payment method has created a storm. Pay by phone or pay by mobile casinos are the hot new things. This is particularly the case since paying by mobile phone bill offers a form of credit to be paid at the end of the month. In fact, pay by phone is now one of the most-preferred payment methods for UK players. And we fully expect this trend to continue into 2023. No-account casinos could also take off in the UK. But that’s if the rules change to allow a more relaxed and “Swedish” style of signing up at online casinos in the UK.
Tough times for crypto casinos and crypto gambling UK
The future of crypto casinos in the UK is considerably murkier than regular online casinos. Several things have contributed to this. First of all, there was another crash in the crypto markets – leading to the price of Bitcoin plummeting. Then, there was the collapse of a high-profile exchange and the arrest of its CEO on various charges of fraud. And lastly, the NFT marketplace and high-profile scams have been widely ridiculed by internet users.
All of this has led to mistrust around crypto gambling. Therefore, we see the anonymity provided by crypto gambling is not enough to convince players to sign up. Plus, the UKGC hasn’t shown any signs of legitimising the crypto world. So, this is one of several negative casino trends that we can see proliferating in 2023. Having said that, new trends pop up all the time and we still think Provably Fair games have a place within the wider gambling industry.
Online Gambling Trends 2023 – Conclusion
Let’s sum up our final thoughts about online gambling trends 2023. The gambling world continues to adapt to the needs of new users. The industry will try to embrace the shift to online, mobile and live games. On the other hand, we predict a gradual industry shift away from more volatile trends such as crypto casinos, virtual reality and the much-maligned Metaverse. Whatever happens, it’s sure to be an exciting year for the UK online casino industry. So, sit back and strap in for a wild ride!
Peter is our Editor-in-Chief at Gamblingauthority. He has more than eigth years of experience from the iGaming industry and is a valuable resource for everything related to online casinos.Read more about the author