Over the last decade, the Digital Revolution has caused massive changes in the human lifestyle. It has tremendously affected several industries, including the gambling industry. Avid gamblers never have to spend idle time traveling to casinos, bingo rooms, and gaming arcades. They can gamble at any time and place that is convenient for them. They can even do so while they are mobile via their tablet or smartphone.
Gambling is an activity that most people cannot do without. In olden times, people meet in street corners with dices and playing cards in hand to gamble as a form of entertainment. It has evolved and become so popular giving birth to specialized gambling places like automatic betting shops, casinos, and now – mobile applications for betting. It is such a popular activity because of the human’s inherent behaviour of risk taking. Gamblers place their bets with the high hopes of winning. This hope of winning provides amusement, entertainment, and vicarious thrill.
The gambling world is rapidly changing. New technological advancements come full circle periodically. How do Malaysians adapt to these changes? Are they coping or are they still confined to their conventional ways?
The Evolution of Gambling in the Past Decade
Along with the evolution of gambling, human behaviour changed as well. The introduction of internet has severely affected people’s daily lifestyle. It has also affected the way people gamble.
In the last 10 years, gambling developed in three major forms: online poker, online casinos, and sports betting systems. In contrast to traditional gambling, the new age of gambling has greatly lessened possible risks due to the absence of built-in barriers. In many developed countries like the UK and the US online sports betting is legal. The meteoric rise of these online bookies started in the 1990s when they discovered the potential of online gambling. Online casinos, online bingo, online poker, jackpot, and betting exchange sites.
Online casinos rose to prominence in 1998 but it was only in 2008 that gambling laws eased up. The regulation of casinos allowed it to exponentially grow online. More and more people became open to the idea of gambling. Some individuals who would not normally gamble or set foot in a land-based casino had the opportunity to gamble at the comforts and privacy of their home.
In the study conducted by Statista, the online gambling industry was worth $20.51 billion in 2009. Its value more than doubled to as much as $51.96 billion this year and is expected to rise to $59.79 billion by 2020. This is a clear evidence of how gambling evolved along with time and further technological advancements. Online gambling covers sports betting, poker, bingo, lotteries, and casinos (websites where people can play traditional games like baccarat, blackjack, and roulette). Of all the mentioned games, both casino games and sports betting take up the largest market share.
The online gambling market continues to grow due to the given factors:
- Increasing mobile use
- Increasing internet access
- Changing gambling habits
- Market consolidation
- Relaxation of gambling laws
- Acceptance of gambling behaviour by the society
How Mobile Gaming Apps Fuel the Growth of Gambling
The mobile industry is growing continuously. More and more people are spending longer periods of time using their mobile phones daily. As much as 190 minutes per day is spent using mobile phones and about 14.2 percent of this is spent on web browsing and in-app mobile internet. The continued increase in smartphone and tablet ownership also effectively converts to mobile web usage. New mobile technologies spurred a 12 percent increase in audience figures, including female audiences.
A big chunk of this mobile web usage can be attributed to mobile gaming. The mobile gaming industry generated an income of roughly $35.6 billion. It has become so popular that the mobile gaming industry was worth approximately $40.6 billion.
Studies show that mobile gaming apps provide users an easier means of gambling. Casino games have become more accessible especially for younger people. Several mobile gaming apps and websites offer their users the opportunity to play casino games that simulate real life by allowing punters to play for cash or use real money in betting.
Both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store attribute as much as 80 percent to 90 percent of their revenues from mobile gaming apps. Most of the gaming revenue comes from Asia followed by North America. To date, as much as 160 million use their mobile devices to engage in online betting with as much as $100 billion spent on mobile gambling.
In the past years, online gambling has surpassed land-based gambling. In the study by Gainsbury, Parke and Suhonen in 2013, as much as 43 percent of gamblers engage in online gambling approximately four times a week compared with only 19.3 percent of gamblers in land-based casinos.
Mobile gaming platforms were also highly preferred over land-based casinos because it gives punters real-time and reliable statistics so they can effectively choose their bets. Mobile gaming has also allowed enthusiastic users to conveniently switch between mobile gambling and their other activities easily.
The Effects of Social Media
Millions of people use the internet to access their social media sites. Hours and hours are spent on updating their Facebook status, posting tweets on Twitter accounts, uploading pictures on Instagram, and sharing snaps on Snapchat. Gambling companies know just how to exploit this to their advantage. These companies spend money on advertising on these sought-after social media sites to bring traffic to their online betting websites. A large part of the sports betting promotion is done through social media.
Most of these social media sites are dominated by celebrities. They are the ones with a huge following. Companies spend money to convince celebrities to promote their website because it will make great conversions. Celebrities also make gambling sites more pleasing and acceptable to people.
PokerStars, a popular online poker site has signed football superstars Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima, and Neymar da Silva as ambassadors. These gambler celebrities, who also play in various tournaments, bring credibility to the said online poker site. People look at gambling as an acceptable activity when it is promoted by people they idolize.
How Are These Changes Affecting Malaysia’s Gambling Landscape?
Malaysia is a diverse country with a rich history. It is also a country with a thriving gambling industry. Funny it may seem to some, the country only has one official and legal casino. This has given its local citizens limited access and variety. Thanks to the growing popularity and availability of online gambling websites, locals now have thousands of betting options. Those who wouldn’t dare enter the Casino de Genting can now play a wide range of casino games in the comforts of their home. They also never have to worry about the prying eyes of the government who want to meddle with their gambling activities.
Perhaps one of the best reasons Malaysians love online gambling is that they can legally play different kinds of casino games without having to worry of prosecution.
Many Malaysian poker players developed their craft by playing poker online. They did not have to go to Casino de Genting just to have a taste of the action. Almost all of their poker learning, strategies, and techniques were learned through the internet. They can now play in tournaments because they have honed their skills by playing online poker.
Take, for instance, Mervin Chan. Chan won the 2013 Aussie Millions Championship even without any professional poker experience. The player discovered poker in 2005 and started playing through online poker sites.
Through online gaming, Malaysians found a new and easier way of betting through the use of technology. They discovered different platforms where they can develop their skills. Not everyone in Malaysia has the means to enter the casino. Some are limited with the travel time and accessibility of the lone casino in the country. Online gambling also introduced and allowed the use of debit and credit cards for playing real money. This is an added convenience for those who do not want to bring large sums of money when they are betting.
In conclusion, online gaming has greatly affected the gambling industry by becoming more accessible and by changing the betting lifestyle of not only avid gamblers but also the younger generation. Online gaming has also changed society’s perception of gambling. It legalization and promotion by well-known personalities have made it an acceptable behaviour and activity.
How has online gaming changed your gambling habits? Let us know in the comments below.