Gambling and gaming convergence, what it means for operators in 2021

gambling and gaming

Technology over the last twenty years has changed the way we live our lives. Increasing accessibility of high-speed internet, advanced hand-held devices, and social media platforms have altered our interactions and the way we work. They’ve also had an enormous impact on how we spend our spare time. We can stream movies and TV shows on-demand, listen to any song we want, whenever we like, and communicate via video with friends and family worldwide. Online gambling and gaming have also been a big part of this shift towards digital entertainment.

The worlds of gambling and gaming are remarkably similar, so much so that the iGaming sector even uses the words interchangeably. One of the key differences is that gambling is usually for money and is based on chance. Gaming is based on skill and generally aren’t played for money. But there are points where they converge, and that’s the topic of this article.

Gambling and gaming

When we talk about gaming, we mean digital games played by one or more people. They could be role-playing or social, be phone-based (think Candy Crush) or console-based (think League of Legends). In terms of themes, sports games are popular, as are strategy and fighting titles.

The most popular games of the moment include Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Super Smash Bros, Fortnite, and Minecraft. The latter is the best-selling video game in history, having shifted more than 180 million copies.

Gambling, however, is specifically related to games of chance. The world’s most popular gambling games are poker, video slots, roulette, and baccarat. They come in video format or live dealer where players can interact with the croupier and other players. The most popular way to gamble in 2021 is on a mobile phone, closely followed by a tablet and regular computer. This means games are designed to fit small screens and to be fast and slick. Gambling games are generally centuries-old in origin but are themed and updated to appeal to modern audiences.

How gaming and gambling converge

As demand for digital entertainment increases, the line between gaming and gambling becomes more blurred. Those working in the gambling sector increasingly use the word “gaming” to refer to their industry, including slots, casino games, and eleven sports betting. So when and how did this shift take place?

There’s no doubt that casinos remain in their category, but aspects of how they work have started to evolve.  More developers are integrating competitive features into offerings. These include competitions and the ability to collect points within the game. This is very similar to concepts used in popular video games.

Another way that gambling sites are undergoing gamification is through their very design. Gambling games now include design elements reminiscent of childhood video games and more conventional skill-based games. This could be a Scrabble-themed scratcher or a slot game with a Space Invaders theme. 

There’s also the rise of social gambling sites that simulate gambling without actually taking monetary wagers or making payouts. These options are popular with younger people and those that don’t want to bet with cash.

But it’s not just gaming elements that are finding their way into gambling games. Some gambling features are also cropping up in the gaming world.

The rise of loot boxes

Loot boxes are becoming more popular in video games of all kinds. These are in-game items that can be bought for a nominal fee. The player has no idea what’s in the box until they buy it and open it. It could include useful items for gameplay or something completely pointless. Players essentially gamble on whether the item has any value or not. Currently, these loot boxes are unregulated, although this could change in the future.

The cost of each loot box is low, but this means it’s easy for payers to overspent without noticing. While the consequences might not be the same as typical gambling, spending on loot boxes is expected to surpass $50 billion next year. The issue is that many of these purchases are made by under 18s, meaning more rigid controls are likely.

Skin gambling

Another convergence point for the gambling and gaming sectors is skin gambling. Skins are in-game items such as weapons, lives, potions, or clothing. Within games and between gamers, they have value. Some items are rarer than others. Skin gambling is where the items are used as a form of digital currency to wager on a game or tournament outcome.

There are various sites set up for skin gambling, although their legality is something of a grey area. Issues include underage gambling, scams and using the skins to bet on regular sports matches. Currently, skins gambling is stuck in the underground, but there’s a market to regulate and promote it.

What does gambling and gaming convergence mean for operators?

Gambling and gaming convergence has several implications for operators. Firstly, they need to be aware that this is driven by player demand. As both sectors become increasingly competitive with countless new platforms and games, innovation is key. In short, you have to give the players what they want.

Gambling sites will need to integrate games that have skill and social elements, alongside their chance offerings. They could also look at skins betting, and offering similar functions within their own games. Game developers will also have to look at keeping players attention. Gambling games within games or partnerships with gambling sites are just some ideas. Either way, both parties need to keep one eye on regulation. As this convergence is still developing, regulators have not yet caught up.

Fast Offshore

As experienced corporate service providers, we’ve seen this trend develop for some time. We can help you develop gambling and gaming-related services. Whether it’s a betting or gambling platform of your own, or incorporating gambling into your gaming product, Fast Offshore will assist. Our team of professionals will manage your licensing application, company incorporation, banking, and compliance. For any questions. you might have, or to take the first steps, contact us today!

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