Over the last few decades, the commercial casino industry has experienced significant growth. Contributing factors to its expansion include growing local economies, ongoing global legalization of gambling-related activities, and reputable operators are gaining footholds in new markets. All of this has amounted to record-breaking annual gaming revenues, which, according to the Business Research Company, should reach a market value of $565 billion by 2022.
However, the industry’s brick-and-mortar segment faces challenges with 2020 and the rise of online gaming sites. While the world is continuously changing, there seems to be one constant – slots in the gambling sphere. Reel-spinners, one-armed bandits, or whatever you choose to call them, dominate both casino floors and digital gaming libraries.
Even though in the past, establishments have tried to attract and engage customers by introducing hybrid table games, and are now toying with VR and AR technology, the easiest gambling genre of all, remains a favorite for many gaming enthusiasts.
Breakdown of Casino Income
You may believe that attaining figures for all segments of the gaming industry is easy. While this may be true for the land-based side of things, the same does not apply to platforms in the digital realm. Real-world casinos operate under far stricter regulation of government authorities in their country. Sites that provide gambling services have a home in regions with lax regulation, which does not require them to release financial information.
For example, the Caribbean nation of Curacao houses a large chunk of the internet’s casinos, and its rules do not compare to those of the Nevada Gaming Commission or the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. The latter two submit monthly public reports, which state the combined revenues of all gaming activity in their state, and what each casino made from what game. There is no such transparency in the online sector unless a site operates within these or similar jurisdictions, most of which do not.
In the US and most regions worldwide, slots constitute around 65% to 80% of all casino revenues. A crucial factor determining this percentage is the location of said venues, as reel-spinners appeal more to casual players, while high-rollers prefer table games.
In Las Vegas, slots constitute around 88% of all revenues for establishments that target locals, while at Strip casinos, this percentage drops to 50%. Why? Slot machines appeal to leisure players because of their simplicity and the opportunity to win a massive prize on a low investment. Whereas serious players like games where skill plays a factor.
According to reports from their respective Commissions, slots constitute 65% to 70% of all gaming revenues in Nevada and New Jersey. Their digital counterparts make even more money in most markets.
Blackjack, or twenty-one, is one of the most popular casino games of all-time. It features an entrenched ruleset and multiple variations that provide all kinds of unique side-bet options. In the US, this table classic accounts for about 12% of all revenues. Interestingly, the game’s popularity has shrunk over the years. Twenty years ago, it accounted for 35% of all table game revenues, a percentage that dropped to 25% in the mid-2010s and now hovers slightly below 30%.
The spin of the wheel of luck is also a classic and vies for the spot of most established casino game ever. A common belief is that roulette is more played in Europe and other regions than in the US. However, it is hard to find numbers that back up such claims. What we know is that roulette games in the US usually contribute 4%-5% of total gaming revenues. When it comes to only the table game contribution, this percentage is around 10%.
Despite public perception, there is no doubt that Baccarat is very popular. You may see few movies about this game, and it rarely gets mentioned in pop culture, but in 2019, it accounted for almost 37% of all Vegas Strip table game revenues.
In Macau, VIP baccarat tables contribute more than 50% to all Macau casinos’ gross revenues. Note that this is a game favored by those with deep pockets, and a few hands at a baccarat table equal millions of reel spins.
For laypeople, we have to make a distinction between poker and its casino variants. What is a casino-poker table? These are games created for casinos and are variations of poker designed to be played against a dealer and at a similar speed to that of other table games. They feature a similar house edge.
Three-card poker is likely the most popular casino-poker variant out there. A lot of venues offer casino-poker but do not have dedicated poker rooms. Three-card poker tables contribute around 1% of all Vegas gaming revenues. Since poker falls under the category – a game of skill and you play it against other people and not the dealer, it usually requires different regulations.
In New Jersey, online poker sites pull in around 4% of the money that online casinos rake in, while in Pennsylvania, they account for 12% of all online gaming revenues.
Online Slots Revenue
According to Industry watchdog OnlineUnitedStatesCasinos.com, revenues from digital real money slots differ from market to market. Again, a major contributing factor to this is regulation. Not all providers supply their titles to operators from all regions. There are usually legal hurdles that restrict them from offering their games to players in specific jurisdictions.
For instance, the US market is more limited when it comes to online slots than other regions, as most sites only feature games from providers such as Realtime Gaming and Betsoft and Betsoft’s subsidiary, Nucleus Gaming. According to reports, online reel-spinners contribute 63% to 65% to the total gaming revenues in US states that allow them.
In some European countries such as Spain, while they are the dominant game type at online platforms, this percentage is lower and moves around from 57% to 60%. Experts speculate that due to the vast offer of titles in less regulated markets and at offshore sites located in Curacao or Malta, revenues from these games reach 70% or higher at platforms that offer them.
Who Plays Online Slots?
Though the stereotypical belief is that slots are favorites of women above fifty-years-old, this is not so. The reality is that, more-or-less, everyone enjoys playing these games. If we look at data from different markets, we can see that the demographic that indulges the most in reel-spinning adventures is between 35 and 44. They constitute around 29% of players.
Most would believe that Millennials and Generation Z members would be flocking to gambling sites, but they aren’t in the numbers that most would expect them to do. Since most young people today have grown up in an age of modern video games, many of them crave more control than what most digital reel-spinners can offer. That is why some providers are looking to implement skill-based bonus rounds to attract these demos.
Why people play slots include entertainment, curiosity, and the possibility of improving their financial situation. Younger people are more looking to have fun while spinning reels, while older generations aim for monetary benefit.
Most Popular Online Slot
Currently, the most popular title in the genre is NetEnt’s Starburst. It is a somewhat rudimentary five-reel, three-row game, with ten payline that has ruled the online casino landscape since its release in 2013. Its appeal lies in its simplicity, vintage charm, low volatility, and massive win potential. Starburst is a slot that pays often and provides a mega prize that’s 50,000 times your bet. With a max bet of $100, you do the math. You don’t want to risk that much? No worries, it also accepts penny bets.
When on the subject of mega prizes, we have to mention Mega Moolah, the premier industry jackpot game, one that’s responsible for creating more millionaires than all the other progressive slots combined. Unleashed on the internet in 2006 by UK gaming giant Microgaming, Mega Moolah has reigned over sites and made dozens of people rich. In 2018, it paid off the largest iGaming prize ever, a jackpot worth $21.7 million to an anonymous winner. It is a medium volatility game, with a payback percentage of 88%.
If you feel like testing your luck on virtual reels, you can try the two games mentioned above or any of the other over 15,000 titles that exist on the internet. However, note that you should first always read reviews about the game you are considering and the casino you plan to play.