The Next Wave in The Gambling Industry: What’s It Going To Be?By Luke Haward, CDC Gaming ReportsFebruary 7, 2019 at 2:45 amThe worlds of technology and of media never stand still. The gambling industry is particularly aware of this, as both the technology underlying the online games on offer, and that protecting the infrastructure for tracking play, monitoring players, and ensuring security and anti-fraud measures, are evolving at an extremely rapid pace. Buzzwords like Big Data are flying, and acronyms for emergent technology are on everyone’s lips, be that AI, VR, AR, or something else. But just what are the top technology trends for the gambling industry in 2019 and into the early ‘20s, and what new forms are having most impact in the gambling world today?AI and machine learning are two aspects which are going to impact all of our lives a great deal in the years ahead. Many believe AI will soon pose a serious challenge to bookies, as the best bots now look set to overtake some of the best humans at predicting outcomes in sports events. It is likely that bookies and AI bettors will enter an arms race of sorts as we move into the ‘20s. AI will also play an ever-greater role in customer relations, including customer diligence, with operators likely farming out much of this to third-party software providers with the relevant expertise in handling Big Data.In terms of gaming itself, with loot boxes and skins trading there has been controversy around the blurring lines between gaming and gambling. This will worsen, if the monster rise in esports is anything to go by. The global esports audience reached 380 million in 2018. Global revenue stood at around $909 million in mid-2018, and there is huge room for growth and no evidence of market saturation in sight.One area of growth, mobile esports, is now booming, with the top ten mobile esports players of 2018 netted over $8 million in winnings between them. And seven of the top ten were female players.So the times are changing fast, and the bookies must move with them. Already several platforms exist for betting on esports outcomes. This is going to be a tough space to navigate in terms of how best to avoid child gambler outcomes, as the games are so appealing (in many cases) to younger audiences.And naturally, yes, the much-anticipated virtual reality and augmented reality gaming will be cropping up more often in the gambling sphere. Projecting a user from his couch into a vast casino, or allowing a sports viewer to jump into a first-person broadcast of a striker’s micro headcam as he shoots for goal, are experiences which are hard to put a price tag on. Not charging directly for the experience looks like a great strategy. Many leading innovators in the gambling sphere are now looking to integrate such technologies. As with any tech, it’s going to get exponentially better, exponentially cheaper, and more widely adopted in the coming years.We’re also likely to see more efforts at using augmented reality and immersive experiences in treating problem gambling. In fact, a team at the University of Quebec has been researching therapeutic tech for the past eighteen years. They are now using VR to locate problem gamblers in a replica of a gambling environment, to help them work through their addiction without the risk of real gambling taking place.In the slightly-longer term, we will also see the integration of blockchain technology into numerous gambling platforms, either in enabling actual transactions, or to help secure sites and prevent fraud. We’re also likely to see further innovations within mobile technology, which will give rise to a new wave of software offerings, quite possibly with augmented reality integrated into devices. This is a little further off, however. For now, esports is the game format, and VR/AR the standalone tech to watch.