A Look at the Growth Of Smartphone Gaming

October 29, 2013 - Written By Chris Yackulic

From how we work, to how we interact socially, and how we look up information, the age of the smartphone has changed the world. This is true for the world of online casinos as well, as gambling companies are seeing billions of dollars in revenue coming in not from PC gaming – but from smartphones.

The Growth Of Smartphone Gaming

Since the days of Nokia’s Snake, people have used their mobile phones to play games – so it was inevitable that online casinos and poker rooms would take advantage of this new format.

Prior to the 2007 release of Apple’s iPhone, sports betting and one-player casino games – with a very simple interface – were the most common of the rare online gambling options found for mobile. Apple’s tablet phone provided a perfect platform for on-the-go gambling, though Apple would not allow real money games to be listed in the App Store.With other options competing for business, Android gaming is also enjoying a boom, for such games as online poker as well as ‘just for fun’ options.Despite this, games such as Zynga Poker proved the potential popularity of real money gaming – Zynga is still the biggest mobile gambling game in the world with tens of millions of monthly users, though real money play is not an option.

The Anatomy Of Smartphone Gaming

The smartphone, with a typical setup of a large screen and massive processing power (as well as increasingly good wireless/3G internet access) has remained the ideal portable gambling platform since Apple released their iPhone. In 2012, it was estimated that there were over 1 billion smartphones being used worldwide, with that figure set to double by 2015.As the smartphone market expanded, so too did mobile gambling options. Industry giants such as bwin, Party and paddypower launched mobile poker rooms and casinos. Android began to get ahead of Apple in this market, since Apple still restricted real money play. While Apple have, since 2012, begun to allow real money apps, many companies are opting for in-browser mobile play.

It’s A Big Money Industry

At the height of the online gambling boom, it was predicted that revenues from mobile gambling would be approaching the $20 billion mark. Of course this was before the United States outlawed internet-based wagers in the controversial Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, and revenues from mobile gaming have not come close to this figure.Despite the United States scuppering optimistic predictions, growth of mobile gambling has been impressive – the convenience and easy access of the platform coupled with the ever-more-accommodating technology has led to forecasts that in 2014, mobile gambling revenues will reach $11.4 billion.

Other analysts are even more optimistic about the future of mobile gambling and in 2010, worldwide online gambling revenue neared $118 billion, so it’s easy to see that mobile gambling is becoming an ever-larger slice of that pie.While sports betting has been the dominant gambling over mobile for years, the advent of the smartphone has opened up more possibilities thanks to increased graphic capabilities and processing power allowing for a wider variety of high-quality games. Modern online slots games, with their interactive bonus levels and impressive visuals, have found an ideal medium in the smartphone and tablet.

The convenience of mobile gambling has resulted in large portions of revenue from mobile gambling. Several prominent UK operators have cited up to 40% of gambling revenue coming from mobile play in the last quarter of 2012. For example, paddypower’s COO stated that 55% of active members owned a smartphone, with over a third of their player base using the company’s mobile app.

The US Picture

The United States could well provide a boost to the mobile gambling economy in the future, despite having defied predictions with the UIGEA. State lottery providers have been faced with falling ticket sales and are, according to some reports, seeking new distribution channels. Lotteries are already a significant revenue source in the United States, with nearly $18 billion raised for state budgets in 2009.In fact, some analysts are predicting that if the US repeals the UIGEA or otherwise legalises and regulates online gaming on a federal level, mobile gaming revenues could top $100 billion by 2017. Of course, this hypothetical would lead to a massive increase in worldwide online gambling in general, regardless of platform. However, with statistics such as paddypower’s 300% increase in mobile users throughout 2012, it’s easy to imagine a mobile gambling market booming out of proportion to any global gambling boom.

The future of mobile gambling is certainly exciting to think about, especially when considering the growth that the market has seen already. The performance curve for mobile technology has been extremely sharp and the developers show no signs of slowing down. Coupled with the increase in coverage such as 4G, we can’t wait to see what the future holds for mobile casinos and gambling.