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Why Online Casinos are Hitting the Jackpot with Slots Games

If you’re casting around for economic success stories of the last couple of decades, there’s one very obvious one to examine. From literally being non-existent in the 1980s, the online casino sector’s growth hasn’t just been impressive, it’s been phenomenal.

What’s more, each year it continues to grow even as other forms of gambling seem to retract, if marginally. The increasing popularity of online casinos and remote gambling reflects other changes in consumer behaviour, for example, the growth in online shopping to the detriment of online stores. The fact that the number of high street betting shops continues to decline with around 6% of premises shutting their doors between March 2019 and March 2020 tells its own story.

And, of all the many options available in the typical online casino, it’s the slots games that have consistently proved to be the biggest money spinners for the operators, by a considerable margin.

The figures speak for themselves

The UK Gambling Commission is the body for compiling and releasing the figures for the gross yield that the industry generates – it’s also responsible for the issuing of licences and ensuring that best practice is followed at all times.

In its latest findings that were released in November 2021 and cover the period between April 2020 and March 2021, the Commission announced that the so-called remote gambling sector generated a grand yield of £6.9 billion. This encompassed not just online casinos, but also bingo and other forms of activity, such as bingo and online sports betting. This was an 18.4% increase on the previous 12-month period.

Drilling down a little deeper, bingo was the smallest contributor to the overall figure at £189.1 million, followed by remote betting at £2.6 billion, predominantly on football and horse racing. But, way out in front at £4 billion were online casinos with £2.9 billion, or around 72%, of the total coming from slots games.

Considering other games on offer include ones that traditionally attract fairly serious stakes like roulette, blackjack, and poker, this is even more remarkable.

The enduring appeal of slots

So what is the secret behind this overwhelming popularity of online slots? One only has to look at any of the leading sites to see that there is a vast variety of games to choose from, all of which look colourful and appealing. Online casinos are also acutely aware of the competition they face, so there is also an ongoing campaign to offer the most appealing incentives for new players.

"sm4069 Slots" (CC BY 2.0) by FolsomNatural

One of the most popular forms of the so-called “welcome bonus” is to offer a set number of free spins, often on the most popular games on a particular site. So, logically, if a player’s first experience on a casino site is playing the slots, then they are more than likely to continue.

The history of the game goes back far further than you might imagine. In fact, they manufactured the very first machines in California in the late 19th century. These were fairly basic mechanical machines and the decades since then have seen slots become gradually more sophisticated.

But, although today’s online games may be a far cry from the original games in terms of technology, they remain very simple to play. Yes, they have features and bonus rounds, but playing them is still really just selecting a stake and setting the reels spinning, even if they now video virtual ones.

When compared with the relative complexities of other casino games that may have betting systems and playing strategies to master, the appeal of slots to the casual player becomes more obvious. Add to this the fact that many of the games offer possible jackpots of large amounts, and slots build an even more interesting argument for playing them.

Then there’s the question of how more and more people are choosing to play in online casinos, namely through their mobile devices. This ties in with the general trend, which has seen mobile phones and tablets take over from PCs as the preferred choice for accessing the internet. So slots developers have been quick to optimise their games for mobile play and many look even better in this format than on a larger screen or monitor.

Where next for slots?

One of the key drivers behind the continuing success of the online casino sector has been its record for innovation. This forward momentum has helped to keep players engaged and curious to see recent developments. So we can expect many signs of progression in the format of slots over the coming years to fully capitalise on their popularity and appeal.

One of the first of these developments is likely to be the introduction of slots games that also rely on a certain element of skill. The motivation behind this will probably be to increase the appeal amongst millennials. Research suggests that it’s currently older players who favour slots. But there is an opportunity to build interest amongst a younger generation of twenty- and thirty-somethings who have been brought up on video games.

By creating slots that include more interactive elements, it should increase its appeal to this key demographic. It's still a section that has yet to experience significant growth, but several sites are now including slots games in which players have to complete a skill- or knowledge-based task to advance to the next stage or increase their winnings.

Virtual reality is also likely to play an ever-more important role in the next generation of games, offering an even more immersive experience. So, instead of playing a game that’s based on the treasure of the pyramids like the very popular Eye of Horus, players could be transported virtually to Ancient Egypt.

The winning formula

Whatever happens, and however the online casino operators and slots developers choose to progress, the popularity of slots will grow and grow. So we can probably also expect them to account for an ever-increasing proportion of revenue generated. And that should secure the future of the online casino industry for many years to come.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes

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