A question you hear a lot these days is where can the land-based casino industry turn for future growth, especially as opportunities for new, ground-up developments have become few and far between.

One popular solution appears to be re-investing in established gaming properties, adding expanded casino and amenity options in order to capture a larger chunk of regional market share. From an individual operator standpoint, this is indeed a perfectly fine, tried-and-true strategy for maintaining and growing revenue and profitability. But when examined from an industry perspective, does this expansion strategy really constitute growth in terms of finding new revenue streams and customers? Often the renovated gaming facility simply takes business away from another established property, with regional compound annual growth rates (CAGR) and combined gaming revenues remaining largely unchanged. For this reason, some observers would say existing facility expansion is only one facet of a viable, long-term growth strategy for the land-based gaming resort marketplace.

Another growth facet that the brick-and-mortar gaming community should embrace, but are often still reluctant to do so, is online wagering. A recent study released by Transparency Market Research shows just how economically dynamic the Internet wagering marketplace has become. The report, entitled “Online Gambling & Betting Market—Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast, 2018 - 2026,” predicts that over the next eight years, the global online betting marketplace will have a CAGR of 11.8 percent, becoming a $128.2 billion business by 2026. The reasons for this rosy global growth outlook, according to the report: increase in prevalence gambling; disposable income of consumers; growth in penetration of the Internet, along with adoption of Internet-based devices; trust on wagering through online mode of payment; and relaxation of laws.

When it comes to types of online wagering, the report states the sports betting and casino segments are projected to expand at a CAGR of about 14 percent and 12 percent, respectively, during the forecast period. The mobile segment is anticipated to swell at a CAGR of around 16 percent, while the desktop segment is expected to remain at a competitive growth rate with a CAGR of around 6 percent.

In terms of online wagering markets, Europe remains on top and is expected to witness significant growth over the next eight years, according to the report. Asia-Pacific is also a promising market, with a forecast CAGR of 14 percent, thanks to factors such as relaxation of laws, growth in participation of wagers through the Internet and the availability of foreign gambling and betting sites with attractive offers. Meanwhile, the online gambling and betting market in North America is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of about 12 percent from 2018 to 2026.

Despite its potential, the online betting business still needs to navigate obstacles such as stringent regulatory laws for online gambling, insufficient facility for internet operations and the threat of cyber-attacks before its future success is certain. Still, the industry is established enough to be of value for brick-and-mortar gaming companies that care to enter it.

And that has been the issue thus far for the U.S.-based casino industry, where most land-based operators have taken either a “wait-and-see” or “toe-dipping” approach to Internet wagering, primarily investing in free-play social gaming sites or setting up small online gaming operations in New Jersey. For the sake of future growth, these brick-and-mortar operators may finally have to get off deck chairs and take the iGaming plunge.