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Sit-down with Jarle Davidsen, Norwegian casino reviewer, on the future of the sector

A few industries catch people's attention, especially when discussing the importance of how they'll shape the digital landscape in years to come. While some traditional industries have taken a big hit because of the exponential rise and accessibility of the internet, the casino sector is one place where that hasn't been an issue.

In fact, the global digital casino market has experienced such a boom that many economic analysts believe it will be one of the most significant growth sectors throughout the 2020s. Large investment banks and companies have staked considerable amounts of money in companies spearheading innovation within this industry.

This is one of the main reasons Norwegian casino reviewer Jarle Davidsen believes the industry is primed and positioned perfectly within the market and the current digital age to continue growing at the breakneck speed it has been over the last decade.

Jarle was once quoted as saying: “Not only are [digital casinos] continuing to emerge, but the different ways to gamble are starting to become popular. This includes cryptocurrency, VR and implementing AI into research and development, which means that the end product is of premium quality for the gambler who is the end user.”

Jarle, finally, we get to sit down and chat about how everything has been going and your thoughts on the sector's future. However, before we get into things, how have you been doing?

“Yes, finally, I'm glad to be able to sit down and answer some questions about an industry that I am passionate about. I've been keeping busy and coming to terms with how the casino industry has continued to evolve and trying to stay ahead of the monumental changes we see every week it seems! Personally, I am doing fantastic.”

So for people who aren't in this industry, explain what it means to you and how it could look in the near future?

“Great question. Well, the casino industry is pioneering in so many ways. It's staggering to think that the first ever slot machine game was designed before the television or the first plane, but they are still abundant in digital and land-based casinos today.

Slot machines are an excellent place to start, as they have gone from primitive, basic contraptions to multi-layered games that implement the latest computing technology. Digital casinos have thousands of titles, with a wide range of reel setups, paylines, themes, music and jackpots. There are numerous different types of slot games you can find online, and they all offer something fresh and unique.

However, the fact they have remained at the front of this industry and continue to attract the world's best game designers sums up the whole point quite nicely. Not only is slot gaming well established, but the biggest and best names are introducing innovations because of the colossal sums of money involved.

This is symptomatic of the entire industry, but the slot machine sector perfectly sums it all up; it continues to invent, change the narrative of what a digital casino can be and takes advantage of all the latest technological designs. As a result, the future looks bright, and it's one of the most exciting industries to be involved in at the minute in my opinion.”

How do you see the future of the sector shaping up? What does it look like in your eyes?

“For me, it all revolves around how they bring in the latest tech and work with it. Just look at the number of industries that are terrified to even mention cryptocurrency or Bitcoin. It seems like a dirty word to some, but when you look at how it works, it could easily be the future of finance. While many are terrified to admit that and don't want disruption to the status quo, some of the biggest casinos have moved in.

They are looking to provide an avenue for gamblers who want to use cryptocurrency to place their bets. In addition, they are exploring ways to create a pathway for gamblers looking to use VR and AI to their advantage.

Virtual reality gambling could be huge in the next five years, and it could really be the thing that takes more customers from land-based casinos and converts them into digital casino fans instead. Many land-based casino customers still enjoy the feel of a casino, but if the digital casino industry has the ability to provide a virtual platform where they can experience all that without having to leave their homes, they will be in an excellent position in the market. I can see this dominating the industry within the next decade.”

So you think land-based casinos are on the way out; there's no future for them?

“Well, not on the way out; they aren't going to go extinct. There'll still be many people, particularly the older generation, who enjoy playing casino games in a physical location. There's a face-to-face interaction with a croupier, and the feeling of a packed casino is a big draw for specific players.

I've managed casinos, so I like to think I understand what I'm talking about. There's a more personable feel with physical casinos, but that is one of the only advantages that land-based casinos have over their digital adversaries at the moment. Once the technology advances to the point where digital casinos aren't just able to replicate the games, but can also replicate the feel and atmosphere of a land-based casino, then there will undoubtedly be some concerns in the land-based casino industry.

Nobody can predict the future without other factors coming into play, but I'd bet big on the industry being a completely digital experience with physical casinos relegated to the industry's fringes, but that's just my opinion.”

Do you have a favorite casino game?

“Well, when I do make a bet, I tend to gravitate toward table games, such as roulette, baccarat or blackjack. One of my favorite gambling memories was experiencing the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Although I mentioned that I think land-based casinos will retract and start to see fewer profits, Vegas is the exception because of its unique package, where gambling is just one of several factors that help create an unforgettable experience.

In 2017, I experienced this first-hand and my lucky number five came in on roulette. I was ecstatic. It's these types of experiences that make the casino industry so unique. Of course, you need to gamble responsibly, but when you enjoy it in moderate doses, and safely, it's such a phenomenal experience.

Due to the enormous profits flowing into the sector, digital casinos can ramp up their efforts to try and bring this experience and feeling into the digital casino industry, and that's how the future looks in my eyes.”

What do you look for when you review casinos?

“I look for all sorts of components, but the main ones are:

  • How broad is the selection of games?
  • How professional does the website look?
  • Is customer service on hand immediately to help you if you need anything?
  • Does it have a good reputation among gamblers on social media?

As long as a digital provider can tick all these boxes emphatically, they won't have too much of an issue from me. However, as someone who has been in the industry, both in land-based and digital casinos, for over two decades, I know the little things to look for, and I'm not going to give the game away too much!”

Has there been a rise in digital casinos?

“Oh yes, definitely; this number continues to grow yearly, and I can't envisage a scenario where this will slow down at any point. Of course, this means more work as a casino reviewer, as more of them are springing up weekly.”

So you’re in no doubt that the industry’s future is digital?

“The future IS digital, isn’t it? Mobile phones are becoming more sophisticated, and fresh waves of people who grew up solely with the internet are starting to enter the world of gambling. Of course, I wouldn't say it will be the only option for people looking to play casino games, but unless there's some drastic reversal in how many people use mobile phones and the internet, then this is very likely how the future of the sector will shape up.”

Jarle, wow, thank you so much for your insight. Sitting down with somebody who knows the industry inside and out is always such an eye-opener. It's rare to come across somebody with multiple decades of experience and an understanding of the pros and cons of land-based and digital casinos.

“Multiple decades?! Now I feel old! No, but in all seriousness, thanks for taking the time, and I'm glad I could provide you with a genuine insight into my experience and thoughts on how the sector's future will likely shape up based on what I've seen.”