Although 2020 was unfortunate in so many ways, the online gambling industry fared better than expected. We can only expect the industry to keep growing in 2021, and Blaine Graboyes is the founder and CEO of GameCo, has shared some predictions of what to expect.
Graboyes, the inventor of Video Game Gambling™, expects the U.S. will continue to warm to regulated online casino gameplay. He cites “the need for states to bolster tax revenues given the shutdowns of physical casinos and the reductions in retail casino revenues as well as the proliferation of sports betting.” Based on that, he expects iGaming regulation will double in 2021.
But for “mobile skill” based games, he expects the taxman is coming. A recent memo from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), building on one issued regarding daily fantasy games, ruled that the “false dichotomy of chance vs. skill as a ‘predominant factor test”’ doesn’t persuade them that DFS transactions should be excluded from a definition of wagering, despite their skill element. Graboyes ads:
“This ruling creates the inevitable basis that ‘mobile skill’ platforms that skirt gambling regulations and certifications, which protect players, will ultimately be taxed and regulated.”
Graboyes also boldly predicts that esports will emerge as a top 5 sports in at least one state, as it has already achieved in some European countries. Citing the stable popularity of CS:GO, he says, “With the legalization of esports betting across the US, often tied to traditional sports betting, it is reasonable to assume that at least one (1) US state will see esports as one of the top five (5) sports betting opportunities.”
With Gen X and Millennials nearly making up half the U.S. population, Graboyes sees 2021 as a tipping point for casinos, who will now have to change some marketing strategies. “Given the massive disruption driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has only accelerated existing trends, Gen X and Millennial audiences will become paramount for casinos, not only in the US but worldwide,” he says. “In 2021, we will see casinos begin to pivot to focusing real dollars and resources on Gen X and Millennial gamers.” As part of that shift, he also expects the game floor to change. “We have already seen casinos create ‘Seniors Only Gaming Areas’ for their core slot players,” he notes. “That provides the basis for reimagining how their real estate is deployed to reach new, different, and generally younger customers. This will lead to changes in product and service offerings along with changes in the physical design and branding of casino environments.”