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Sergey Karshkov: What Does the Prevalence of Virtual Casinos Mean for the Gaming Sector?

Since its origin, which dates back to antiquity, betting has taken a great many different forms ranging from casting marked sticks – an attempt to divine the intentions of the gods, and the future – to more contemporary iterations involving lotteries and the casino (and, at a later stage, its virtual counterpart).

While betting is widely understood to be one of mankind’s oldest pastimes, its meaning and connotations have greatly shifted throughout history. In antiquity, it was much more closely connected to notions of destiny and fate, and tended to be more prevalent in societies with strong spiritual and religious traditions. It was also used in some cultures as a means of dispensing justice – a phenomenon recorded as late as 1803.

Nowadays, gambling is more closely associated with entertainment and – when carried out safely and responsibly – can bring punters an enduring sense of suspense and excitement.

Owing to the advent of the internet and the proliferation of smartphones, betting has also become much more accessible. Punters no longer need to visit a casino to engage in the activity; instead, they simply need to be equipped with a smartphone and connectivity.

Access to both is now ubiquitous in Western countries and growing exponentially in Africa, Asia and South America, especially with the advent of 5G. Where betting used to be reserved for those (normally financial well off) who were able to attend a casino, (which also often involved travelling, accommodation and other costs), betting is now within reach for billions of people worldwide.

The wider industry, which also includes video gaming, boasts more than an estimated 3.2 billion people worldwide. The gaming sector, which encompasses betting, has now outcompeted television and cinema – in terms of scale and revenues – as well as any other entertainment niche.

This certainly bodes well for betting, which taps into precisely the same practices that have enabled the meteoric rise of the gaming sector. Both are based on the immediate and imaginative engagement of users – the ability to capture, nourish and sustain their interest and enrich their experience. However, this is no easy feat in the context of an ‘attention economy’ where there is conceivably infinite content vying for people’s interest.

Attention has become one of the most valuable commodities. To stand out in this fiercely competitive landscape, betting is increasingly moving online; the emergence of virtual or ‘live’ casinos has undoubtedly aided the sector in continuing to attract millions of new users and subscribers every year.

This transition has driven a sharp increase not only in the number and availability of games (on the App Store, for instance), but also in their quality and ability to stimulate and engage users. This has also served to accommodate punters since the outset of the pandemic, which forced most casinos to shut down – meaning scores of people turned online or to their smartphones and familiarised themselves with a whole suite of virtual betting games.

This trend is here to stay, and the more it is embraced by betting companies the more it will strengthen their competitive edge. Of course, this must be accompanied by a keen attention to the quality of games that are offered.

9Pandas, led by its founder Sergey Karshkov, strives to stay abreast of developments in the gaming sector following its continuous digital transformation. It is well positioned to advise companies looking to explore opportunities in the sector.


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