Online casino gambling is worth $40 billion a year and, pushed along by the growth in smartphone use, that figure is rising all the time. The latest estimates suggest that worldwide smartphone use is set to grow 800% over the next five years. Concurrently, industry analytics suggest that as much as 40% of all gambling activity will take place online by 2018. When you bear in mind that all this is happening in a global economy that most people to be consider to be on the brink of recession those are figures well worth taking a look at.
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Big in Japan
Nowhere encapsulates those booming trends better than Japan, a nation synonymous with an enthusiastic appetite for games and new technologies. Formal online casino gambling in Japan is not part of the cultural landscape. Indeed, recent political moves to introduce it appear to have foundered amidst a complicated series of governmental manoeuvres and counter moves. But bricks and mortar are no longer a requirement, and the online market is booming.
Online providers such as www.32red.com/jp/ are increasingly targeting their offerings directly at the Japanese market. The ability to cash out in Yen is a key indicator of the degree of commitment which such providers are making to their Japanese clientele, as is the delivery of client facing website versions using Japanese rather than the otherwise ubiquitous English.
The poker push
Whilst global gaming figures include sports betting, lottery and bingo in one form or another, the highest growth in the sector has been seen in the casino and poker markets. The convergence of this type of games speaks of the perfect marriage of technological and gaming developments.
High profile figures such as professional poker player Naoya Kihara are energetically advocating the merits of games such as online poker which are largely unknown in the Japanese cultural context. Kihara is one of very few Japanese to have won serious money on the WSOP (World Series of Poker) professional circuit and as such has achieved a celebrity status amongst his countrymen. In that role he is an active voice promoting the merits of online gaming.
A different way to play
The careful tailoring of gaming apps to hand held technologies is clearly a winning formula for the likes of 32Red, PokerStars and 888Casinos – all leading internationally renowned brands. Allied with the high level of connectivity enabled by 4G technologies what this enables is a more casual, less formal and less concentrated gaming experience. Rather than having to adopt new habits or to go out of their way to play, Japanese gamers are able to play short-term, semi-casual games as they commute of wait for a meeting.
The recent political debates in Japan as to the merits of constructing a series of super casino complexes has raised the level of awareness of gambling as a pastime, and there is a sense that it is something which is increasingly entering the mainstream. In fact that is a trend being replicated elsewhere, in places as far apart as India and the US. Worldwide, it seems, governments are aware that there are huge amounts of revenue to be derived from online gambling and that in order to achieve that they need to facilitate a more gambler-friendly environment.
For punters and politicians alike, there are a good many reasons to consider what online casinos have to offer.