online gambling wagers $1 trillion VR casino
A gaming research firm believes total online gambling wagers will hit $1 trillion in 2021, and it’s betting on virtual reality casinos playing a significant role. (Image:

Online gambling wagers will close in on $1 trillion in annual worldwide spend by 2021 according to a new study from Juniper Research. The technology analytics firm estimates that total internet wagers will soar to $950 billion over the next five years and eclipse the $1 trillion mark in 2021.

That’s quite a claim considering in 2016 total online bets on planet Earth is expected to come in around $550 billion. A 45 percent gain in five years is quite a forecast from the research company based in Hampshire, United Kingdom.

Should Juniper’s projections come true, online gambling wagers would equal that of all spending on digital goods and services. Digital goods and services includes any intangible item that’s digital, such as internet subscriptions, streaming services, and mobile apps.

Juniper credits the projected surge in online wagering growth to gamblers increasingly taking their betting to the internet. New technologies like virtual reality (VR) and eSports are also expected to play a pivotal role in the progression.

“User engagement goes a long way towards drawing in return business,” Juniper researcher Lauren Foye notes. “Providing features such as news and media on favorite teams, as well as personalized offerings based on past betting activity, enables greater engagement.”

Virtual Vital

Juniper says in its research that online sportsbooks, casinos, exchange betting platforms, lotteries, and VR betting will all play a role in reaching $1 trillion. But while it’s the casinos and sportsbooks that today represent the largest chunk of online gambling wagers, over the next five years the VR space will become a leading moneymaker.

Virtual casinos have been in development for years, and many believe gamblers will soon be more interested in throwing on a VR headset and entering a virtual casino over driving to a land-based physical venue.

The rollout has been slow to take hold, but companies believe that will change in the coming years.

Samsung has its Gear VR, Sony has PlayStation VR, and Google has Cardboard. Come this fall, many shoppers will get their first experience with VR headsets.

Best Buy will become the first US retailer to give customers demonstrations of Oculus Rift during the upcoming holiday shopping season at 500 of its locations. Rift is one of the leading virtual headsets, but also one of the most expensive.

Foye believes the VR clientele will lead to significant virtual gambling revenues for casinos that enter the interactive digital space. Of course, in America only three states have some sort of legalized online gambling.

ESports Over Pro Sports

Sportsbetting remains big business internationally, especially in Europe. But in the US, sportsbetting is limited to Nevada.

ESports, like daily fantasy sports (DFS), bypasses the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) by claiming to be skill-based contests. ESports betting sites like Unikrn, Vulcun, and AlphaDraft allow viewers to add extra interest to major video gaming tournaments.

Eilers Research estimates eSports betting could top $23 billion in 2020.

Between 1984 and 2015, $72.48 billion was bet on sports in Nevada. If Eilers is correct, eSports worldwide could achieve over 30 percent of the Silver State’s total sports bets in one year alone.

Perhaps the sun might actually shine on Juniper’s $1 trillion online gambling wager forecast.

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