Jackpot: Cloud Gaming Powers the Future of Gambling

Increased legalization and pandemic-era popularity are feeding big growth in online casinos and sports betting, and cloud computing is a key enabler.

By Jacob Gedetsis

By Jacob Gedetsis February 3, 2022

On any given Sunday, fans of American football see more advertisements than they do touchdowns. From beer and potato chips to cars and pharmaceuticals, their televisions peddle every good under the sun. In fall 2021, however, football fans began seeing ads for a different kind of product: online sports betting.

Online sportsbooks like DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM and WynnBET have dominated commercials breaks and sponsored broadcast segments with ads featuring celebrity pitchmen like Jamie Foxx, Ben Affleck and Martin Lawrence, all of whom have urged viewers to place bets — and win big — from their couches.

Online sports betting and casinos boomed during the pandemic, and their meteoric rise shows no signs of slowing down. GeoComply Solutions, a cloud-hosted company that uses geolocation to ensure bets are placed in locations where sports betting is legal, processed nearly 58.2 million transactions during the opening weekend of the National Football League’s 2021 season. 

“We expected high volumes, but what we have seen has surprised us nonetheless,” Lindsay Slader, a managing director with GeoComply, told The New York Times

“The level of demand across new markets, such as Arizona, indicates that consumers have long waited for the option to legally place a sports bet.”

Nearly three years after the Supreme Court struck down a law outlawing sports betting, government officials and casino moguls are looking to cash in on gamblers eager to place a bet on their favorite teams. As more states formally legalize sports betting and online casinos, iGaming offers a jackpot for both industry execs and players.

In fact, the iGaming market is on track to reach a $127.4 billion valuation by 2027 — and the industry is betting on cloud computing to make it happen. With cloud-based games, people can gamble any time and from any place. That means more opportunities to have fun, socialize and win a cash prize. Plus, transactions are anonymous, secure and fast. Win or lose, both the house and bettors are therefore going all-in on the future of cloud computing gambling.

But What is Cloud Gaming and How Does It Work?

Cloud gaming allows users to play online games through remote hardware owned by a cloud provider. Instead of players inserting a game disc into a gaming console or downloading a game’s file onto their device, players stream games via the web.

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That means players don’t need the greatest gaming console or graphics card. They just need a steady internet connection. In addition to making games look better and move faster, cloud gaming also makes gaming more accessible. 

“Cloud gaming basically says we are going to take all of the processing and all of the visualization of [games] and do it remotely,” tech expert Matthew Ball said in an interview with Polygon

“You can now access infrastructures and capabilities far in excess of anything you could physically put in your room.” 

Through popular cloud gaming services like Shadow Cloud Gaming and Google’s Stadia, players have access to a gaming PC or super-powered gaming console located in a remote data center. These servers handle the game rendering and send users a stream of the results. 

It’s the same process that powers Netflix movies or YouTube videos, but with cloud gaming there’s an additional input as players react to gameplay. Also, the servers must quickly process these inputs — for example, the pull of a digital slot machine’s arm — in real time and seamlessly send the result back to players.

The cloud gaming service handles all the updates and physical hardware, so users can spend more time playing and less time waiting for downloads or breaking the bank for costly PC upgrades. 

“There hadn’t been a new major entrant in the gaming space in 20 years,” Jack Buser, Stadia’s director of games, told The New York Times

“It does give us the advantage to do something different in this industry and push it forward in a way that consoles can’t.”

Cloud Computing: The Future of Gambling

The bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip dimmed during the COVID-19 pandemic, which gutted the gambling mecca’s bottom line. Now, tourists and gamblers are finally returning to get their fix. But gaming giants aren’t taking their eyes off of online opportunities. 

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In April, MGM Resorts International CEO Bill Honrbuckle told CNBC that iGaming eventually will account for two-thirds of industry earnings.

“The real value to this business and the economic opportunity is in iGaming,” Hornbuckle said at the Berenstein Annual Strategic Decisions Conference.

“Sports is going to create, and has created, a great deal of momentum, and we know there’s long-term value in that. But I think iGaming becomes the economic secret to this business.”

MGM Resorts expects to make $1 billion in net gaming revenue through its sports betting and internet gaming platform, BetMGM.

Physical casinos require huge amounts of maintenance. Themed slot machines can quickly go out of style, and changing out machines eats into profits. Online platforms, on the other hand, provide casinos with the ability to change out games and formats in the blink of an eye.

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By relying on the cloud, casinos take pressure off their in-house databases and storage systems while also making it easier to scale during the busiest days of the year.

A cloud service provides the IT infrastructure for gamblers around the world to place bets on the casino’s internet and mobile-app platforms. The cloud securely hosts player data, remembering player information for a custom experience while protecting their critical information. 

The cloud is at play in physical casinos, too. In-play betting gives gamblers the chance to bet on the outcome of events in progress. While watching the game at the casino’s sportsbook, gamblers can bet on which player will score next or the outcome of the next half. For this to work, the casino must quickly set lines, deliver real-time information and process huge amounts of customer data. Cloud computing makes it possible, powering new ways to make exciting in-play bets.

Like so many other industries — from construction and healthcare to financial services and transportation — the gambling industry is looking to cash in on digital transformation. As eager gamblers seek new ways to pursue serious winnings, online casinos and sports gambling are enabling a new kind of gambling mecca that replaces the neon lights of Las Vegas with the blue light of computers and smartphones.

Jacob Gedetsis is a contributing writer. His work has appeared in The Kansas City Star, The Post Standard and The Plain Dealer, among others. Find him on Twitter @JacobGedetsis.

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