Spectrum Gaming Group, an independent research and professional services firm serving public- and private-sector clients worldwide, has released its list of Top Trends that the global gaming industry needs to monitor in 2020.
For 16 years, Spectrum professionals have predicted critical trends, ranging from its prediction 15 years ago that the gaming industry would move from rejection to acceptance to embrace of online gaming to its 2019 prediction that Asia’s online gaming industry – including the streaming of casino games to China from the Philippines and Cambodia – will face scrutiny from China and from international regulators.
The 2020 list has been developed in conjunction with experts from the Spectrum Group of Companies, including: Spectrum Gaming Sports Group, Spectrum Asia, Spectrum Gaming Capital and Spectrum Esports Advisors.
The top 10 trends for 2020 (in order of prominence) are:
- In Japan, 2020 will be the “Year of the Prefecture” in that prefectures will be fully involved in evaluating whether or not they will compete for one of three authorized integrated resorts (IRs). Prefectures will establish working groups and advisory councils to assist in this process and by the end of next year one or more prefectures will have selected their IR operator partner. Meanwhile, the National Government will name the Commissioners to the Casino Regulatory Commission and the regulatory agency will become operative by issuing a series of regulatory guidelines.
- The internationalization of gaming brands will continue, with Hard Rock International, Melco Resorts & Entertainment, and MGM Resorts International leading the pack. More jurisdictions in Europe, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere will seek out such brands as they continue to look to the development of IRs as economic generators.
- While igaming has been active for more than five years in the US, more states will expand into this area in 2020. Digital sports betting will also continue its post-PASPA expansion. Those simultaneous trends could lead to more conflicts between lotteries and casino operators, as both industries look to igaming and sports betting as the means to attract younger demographics. Related to that, the expansion of sports betting into non-traditional outlets such as stadiums and sports bars will fuel the use of self-service betting terminals (SSBTs), leading to the potential installation of thousands of SSBTs in multiple states.
- Electronic gaming devices characterized as “skill-based” games that are not regulated will become more pervasive throughout the US, garnering support from legislators seeking additional revenue as well as from retailers attracted by the prospect of additional revenue and foot traffic. This trend is also generating significant pushback from regulated offerings, particularly lottery games, based on concerns that such games cannibalize other forms of gaming.
- As mergers and acquisitions among gaming companies continue, more states will find themselves in a position in which their licensees operate facilities in nearby states. This will put pressure on states to develop more investment-friendly regulatory and tax systems to keep capital, jobs and revenue from flowing to more appealing jurisdictions.
- The Asia-Pacific Group, the organization affiliated with the Financial Action Task Force in Paris overseeing anti-money-laundering issues worldwide, will continue to push countries in Southeast Asia to increase their regulation of gaming especially in the areas of Licensing (determining beneficial ownership of casinos and online casinos) and anti-money-laundering.
- Crypto-based betting and gaming will continue to gain momentum. Many countries are seeking to regulate this activity, thus adding legitimacy and stability to what had been a highly fluctuating, volatile currency market. Similarly, the gaming industry’s use of artificial intelligence and virtual reality technologies will expand, with a focus on enhancing the customer experience.
- Handle from betting on team-based leagues and players in competitive esports gaming will grow in international regulated markets. In the US market, esports betting will remain minimal as the domestic gaming industry continues to focus on traditional sports betting, and will not devote significant resources to esports. However, regional gaming operators will increasingly view esports as an amenity, fueled by the increasing frequency of esports-related events in gaming hubs such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
- In Europe, gambling advertising will come under increasing pressure and scrutiny in the face of regulatory and pubic concerns that some messages do not sufficiently promote responsible gaming policies and practices, as required by law. At the same time, regulators throughout Europe and especially in the UK have signalled an increasing willingness to levy more fines, with greater penalties, against their licensees in a broad-based effort to ensure full compliance.
- Separating real estate from operations with real estate investment trust (REIT) ownership will become a more commonplace activity. At least one more REIT will enter the gaming field to provide more competition to leaders GLPI, MGP and VICI. Traditional, non-gaming real estate funds such as Blackstone will continue to buy well located but underperforming properties.