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Social casino gameplay dropped in October, but it's probably temporary

The audience for the rapidly-expanding social casino gaming market declined steeply in October, but don't let that fool you: the market is still expected to generate $2.4 billion in revenue by 2016.
The audience for casino-based social games saw a pretty steep drop in October, but that market is still expected to grow. That's according to new research from Superdata, which shows that 8.5 percent fewer people played social casino games in October versus September. Revenue declined similarly. All eyes are on the rapidly-growing social casino market lately, which has more than doubled its audience in the last two years and could become the segment to watch in 2013. A decline could mean we've finally hit a plateau, but Superdata CEO Joost van Dreunen doesn't think that's the case here. "The dip in I think is normal for the year," he tells us by phone. "People are probably saving their dollars for the holiday season. On the spending side, people are probably more conservative. "Is this the beginning of a trend? I don't think so." One big factor for the decline is Zynga's struggle to retain its Zynga Slingo players: the company lost 15 million of them in October.

An industry to watch

Those who haven't been paying attention may be surprised to learn that an estimated 31 percent of social game players are playing casino games. And if it wasn't for Zynga Slingo's decline, that share would actually be around 32.6 percent. Superdata estimates that social casino gaming is a $1.7 billion industry. By 2016, that figure is expected to grow to $2.4 billion, and could go even higher if online gambling regulations are lifted to allow real-money gambling (specifically in the United States, which generates the most social casino revenue despite having to rely on virtual currency). Developers are becoming increasingly interested in entering the space, which has become so big as to spawn its own individual conferences.

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