VSO New Year Special: Gambling Industry Predictions For 2024

2023 was full of surprises for the global gambling industry and we are looking ahead to 2024 to make some predictions of what the year might have in store. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

The gambling industry is constantly going through waves of change. New laws are coming into place and companies are adopting burgeoning technologies, all the while disastrous events are sometimes waiting around the corner.

2023 has been a year full of intrigue as more US states embraced legal sports betting, artificial intelligence (AI) emerged as a potentially huge disrupter to the industry, and various major casino companies suffered with debilitating cyberattacks.

While we don’t have a crystal ball, VegasSlotsOnline News has done its best to offer some predictions for the gambling industry going into 2024:

More integration of artificial intelligence (AI) AI has been around for a number of years, exploding into mainstream attention this year with the emergence of ChatGPT, which launched in November 2022. The general public woke up to the many advantages that this type of technology can have on all aspects of their lives. Businesses are now scrambling to see how they can integrate AI to become more efficient and keep competitors at bay.

We will likely see a lot more adoption of AI in the gambling sector in 2024. This will include developers leveraging it to make even more compelling casino games to try to hold the attention of players for longer periods. Companies will also be able to gather data in a more efficient manner, helping them to better optimize games by seeing what’s working and what’s not.

AI tools can quickly spot suspicious betting patterns

AI security tools can provide a bit more comfort to operators as they battle against the increase in cyberattacks. They can also offer more effective geolocation tools that can identify if someone is using a VPN to access the platform from a restricted country. Certain AI tools can quickly spot suspicious betting patterns and easily figure out if someone is using multiple accounts through the same device or showcasing signs of problematic gambling behavior.

Further US sports betting consolidation It truly is survival of the fittest in the US sports betting sector. Many smaller operators have been muscled out of the market, unable to compete with the mega money that big players FanDuel and DraftKings are spending to gain market share. The latter racked up marketing costs of nearly $200m in just the second quarter of 2023.

platforms will either get gobbled up by the bigger players or just completely fold

Numerous sportsbook operators are plodding along without making much headway in what is typically a low-margin business. It is likely that many of these platforms will either get gobbled up by the bigger players or just completely fold. The bigger operators, meanwhile, will hope to start turning a consistent profit.

ESPN Bet and Fanatics are two relatively new entrants to the US sports betting sector looking to capture significant market share. It will be fascinating to see if Fanatics can get its expected 20% market share or if Penn Entertainment can leverage the ESPN brand and reach to gain a foothold for itself after the disaster of its previous partner Barstool Sports.

Companies embracing virtual reality and augmented reality Two other emerging technologies gaining momentum are augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). While these technologies have been around in some degree for some time, they are now reaching a point where they can prove useful for gambling-related offerings.

incorporating an AR experience to make live dealer games even more realistic

In 2024, we predict that more online casinos will start offering an AR experience to make live dealer games even more realistic. Players will feel more than ever that they’re physically sitting at a casino table when they put on a headset. They can interact with the dealer and fellow players in a scarily realistic manner.

Certain companies are also working on fully immersive VR online gambling experiences that allow people to walk around a virtual casino and play anything that might tickle their fancy.

Companies investing more to combat cyberattacks Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International were both high-profile victims of cyber-attacks in 2023. Hackers also targeted other casinos, but none felt the effects quite as much as these two industry behemoths.

While Caesars paid a $15m ransom and attempted to keep the scandal under wraps as much as possible, MGM took a different approach. It refused to pay anything to the hackers and its Las Vegas properties faced serious disruption for weeks before the operator finally got systems back up and running. The whole ordeal reportedly cost the company about $100m.

Big institutions like MGM and Caesars are lucrative targets for hackers. As well as having the deep pockets to potentially pay a ransom, they also have databases containing the personal information of millions of customers. This type of data can fetch a pretty penny on the black market. Other big-name casino companies will hope to avoid similar issues in 2024.

It is likely that we will see all kinds of gambling-related companies investing heavily in cybersecurity going forward. Training employees will become a big focus, as social engineering is a way in which these nefarious groups often gain access to networks. One concern we have is whether smaller operators will have the resources to invest properly in this area in 2024, with consumer confidence and reputations on the line.

More gambling markets opening up in the US Two of the most enthralling things to watch in the US next year will be the impact of sports betting in Florida and the awarding of three full-blown casino licenses in and around New York City. Hard Rock Bet is now finally back up and running after a two-year legal battle. With a population of more than 26 million people, Florida can compete with New York for dominance in the sports betting rankings.

two of the three licenses look like they’re going to MGM Resorts and Genting

Then there’s the awarding of three $500m casino licenses in downstate New York for which about a dozen different parties are battling it out. The companies that come out on top will have access to a very lucrative market. While two of the three licenses look like they’re going to MGM Resorts and Genting, there will be a huge battle for the final seal of approval.

Spectrum Gaming estimated that a casino resort in Manhattan could generate annual gaming revenue of up to $2.3bn.

With more than 35 states already having legalized sports betting, eyes are now turning to the iGaming market. Online casinos have much higher margins than sportsbooks. Only six states currently have these types of platforms up and running. We would expect lawmakers in jurisdictions like New York, Maryland, Indiana, and Illinois to seriously consider the matter in 2024.