Can casual gaming play a leading role in the future growth of the industry

Article by Martin Oelbermann

The consulting firm MECN’s new study “Casual Gaming and Gambling in the Internet” analyzes some of the hottest topics in the industry – skill gaming, online bingo, and fantasy sports. The study includes the results of a survey MECN conducted among more than 60 industry experts who offered their unique insights and assessments.

The recent weeks were the toughest for the private online gambling industry ever: an online gambling prohibition bill (Goodlatte/Leach Bill) passed the US House of Representatives and has a chance to be passed by the Senate also; the CEO of online sportsbook BetonSports was arrested by the FBI; high courts in Germany limited the validity of private betting licenses, … just to name a few of recent blows that shook the industry. It is particularly the rapid succession of these events in just a few short weeks that shocked the industry.

But some operators had already started to think about alternative revenue sources in case gambling would face tougher restrictions, and previous growth sectors, such as online poker and betting exchanges, would mature. According to many experts, casual gaming and gambling, which includes skill gaming, online bingo, and fantasy sports, represents such an alternative. Although some of the casual gaming and gambling offers have already been in existence for several years, the industry has only recently begun to focus on them. “It is astonishing at what speed this industry is currently moving,” explains Martin Oelbermann, coauthor of the study. ”We can see, for example, on a weekly base high caliber companies and investors, such as media giants Liberty or Burda, as well as Betfair’s founders getting involved.”

Millions of casual gamers, especially women, are waiting for attractive offers

The main reason for the increased interest are the millions of potential casual gamers and gamblers not yet targeted by the industry. As the market for heavy punters and gamblers becomes more and more saturated, the industry now begins to focus on casual gamers and gamblers and especially on women.

Casual gaming as attractive product option as legislation concerning online gambling becomes more complex

Another reason for the growing relevance of the casual sector is that the legislation regarding gambling is getting more and more complex everywhere and forces state lotteries as well as private companies to look for alternative products to their traditional gambling offerings. For example, in accordance with European court decisions, some state lotteries (such as Dutch De Lotto and German WestLotto) now have to decrease their marketing and expansion efforts for sports betting. Casual gaming could be an attractive alternative revenue source for them. As Martin Oelbermann adds, “Especially the legally less problematic skill gaming sector, including online versions of various card and board games, must become a consideration in many strategic discussions at state lotteries as one of the key future growth options.”

Selected key insights

Among key results of the report are the following insights into the casual gaming and gambling industry:
  • The experts estimate the current market size for casual gaming and gambling (skill gaming and online bingo) to be about USD 500 million with 8 million registered players playing for cash.
  • By 2010 the casual gaming and gambling market is expected to grow to USD 1 billion.
  • The experts estimate that more than 63% of the casual gamers are women, which is unique in the generally male-dominated gaming and gambling industry.
  • As many as 72% of the experts believe that offering a large variety of games is the most important characteristic of a successful casual gaming site.
  • Europe will be the most important region for future growth, according to 91% of the experts.
The study can be obtained at http://www.casual-gaming.mecn.net.