Whilst there are no online bingo specific statistics published so far, KPMG have published a report in 2011 estimating that the entire online gaming industry is worth approximately US$21 billion and is expected to hit $30 billion by 2012. However given that some of the biggest countries including China, Japan and South Korea still prohibit online gaming, this figure could grow significantly. Some additional predictions include industry consolidation, business to business expansion, entrance of land based operators and emerging platforms.
Since the online bingo promotion market exploded in 1996, it has become lucrative business for its parent companies. As a result the market is now saturated with online gaming companies wanting piece of the lucrative market. As we have seen historically with other industries such as the automotive industry, this inevitably leads to industry consolidation. It is likely that gaming companies may also join forces with mobile technology companies in an effort to capitalise on the increasing mobile culture so that they have additional outputs for their offerings.
Trends in emerging markets and business to business expansions include the introduction of online bingo and the first ‘social gaming’ networks. Facebook users can now play online bingo with their online friends. This concept has become so popular it has become the fastest growing sector of the online market and there is potential for huge growth in the future. The growth of mobile bingo is likely to be phenomenal as this market is currently largely untapped. As we have witness the introduction of mobile banking, shopping etc, mobile bingo is a key emerging market.
Just as the use of mobile and social technology is ever increasing, the infrastructure of broadband and secure global banking is becoming increasingly secure, reliable and sophisticated. This now lend itself to the growth of previously untapped online bingo promotion markets. Potential future markets include India and Latin America.
With all emerging lucrative markets, there comes a certain amount of risk. Possible risks that could affect the online bingo market include legislation against online gambling as there will always be movements to try and reduce or eliminate online gambling altogether. The UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006) prohibits gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any federal or state law. The implications of this are that the US market can no longer use their Visa or Master credit cards to play online bingo. Finally the issue of reputation and privacy concerns raises the issues of fraud and security issues where players might use software to try and beat the system. Furthermore, the registration process means that companies have a right to secure a huge amount of personal information and the management of this is closely regulated. If anyone was to be found in breach of privacy regulations then they would face very serious consequences.
When all is said and done, the future of the online bingo industry looks lucrative. All the emerging trends indicate that as long as there is financial gain to be made, businesses will continue to invest in this industry, despite the risks that are there.
Gamble Aware (www.gambleaware.co.uk) is managed by the Responsibility in Gambling Trust, an independent charity which funds treatment, research and education about responsible gambling. The website has been developed by a Task Force made up of representatives from the Gambling Commission, DCMS, academia and industry.