September last year, BBC News reported that Atlantic City, which for a long time called itself America’s playground and has enjoyed gambling monopoly on America’s north-eastern seaboard and the eastern side of the Mississippi River, has been on constant decline in the past few years. A third of the casinos in the city are now closed, with the likes of Trump Plaza, Trump Taj Mahal, Showboat and Revel Casino one of the bigger names to close shop.
January this year, South China Morning Post also reported a similar problem with Macau, with Melco Crown Entertainment, with a market capitalization of HK$ 104.6 billion, announced it will be delisting from the Hong Kong stock exchange as it suffers its first revenue drop in over a decade. Other companies seem to be suffering as well, with the city’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau reporting that casino revenues in Macau fell 2.6% in 2014. Just last December, the city absorbed a huge 30.4% monthly decline.
Given such grim news about the casino industry worlwide, one might deduce that the traditional, physical casinos that have been popular in decades are continuously declining in popularity. Researchers and industry experts attribute this to market saturation, with many cities in the US and other parts of the world being more open to gambling, and thus resulting to marquee destinations like Macau, Atlantic City and Las Vegas to see yearly visitor numbers decline. Some might also argue that the worsening economy worldwide does not help the gambling industry at all.
So what now for all the gamblers out there? Research firms, in forecasts released as far back as 2005, point to mobile as the future of gambling. Juniper Research reported in 2010 that the projected total sum wagered on mobile casinos is expected to surpass $48 billion in 2015. Meanwhile, Gartner estimates 2014 global mobile casino revenues to be as much as $11.4 billion.
Indeed as of December 2013, over a hundred mobile casinos were in operation, with the bulk being run by the big casino operators themselves to provide alternatives to their current player base. A recent infographic published in www.visual.ly further affirms this surge as, according to them, 20% of mobile users are using their smartphones or tablets to access online gambling apps including high reputation sites such as club777. And with an estimated 2 billion smartphone users in the world, that’s a staggering 400 million users worldwide, with another 100 million increase expected in the next 5 years. Furthermore, mobile penetration of the casino market is forecasted to be as high as 35%. In 2018, it is expected that the amount of bets placed in mobile devices will reach $100 billion.
Clearly, all these information points to gamblers, highrollers or not, are constantly moving away from physical casinos and instead focusing on mobile gambling. And personally, such move makes sense, even for the professional gamblers out there. If they can play the same high-stakes game at the comfort of their five-star cabanas in Hawaii or the Maldives, and still rake in thousands if not millions of dollars in winnings, why go elsewhere? The same could also be said for the inverse, the common middle class professional who is just looking to blow off some stress at work.