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How Mobile Apps Revolutionized The Gambling Industry

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On Friday, June 29th George W. Bush was the American President, Gordon Brown was the Prime Minister of the UK and Rihanna was dominating the British charts with her hit single Umbrella. In California at Macworld, 45,572 avid Apple enthusiasts witnessed one of the most important technological moments of the past 50 years as Steve Jobs unveiled the world’s first ever iPhone.

One of the unexpected benefactors of this technological advancement was the gambling industry, which has used smartphone capability to stunning effect in the past decade. Between 2007 and 2014 the GGY in the UK had crept up by around £2 billion, in the three years after 2014 that figure grew by over £3 billion. That was largely thanks to the popularity of mobile gambling, which made sites like winkslots accessible to users on the move.

The 2007 Gambling Landscape

The first real money online casino was launched in 1996, but 11 years later the industry was still struggling to establish itself. The Gross Gambling Yield (GGY) which is the amount of money retained by operators after the payment of winnings in 2007 was around £9.9 billion.

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The National Lottery was the biggest contributor to that figure, with 25% of the GGY coming from the state-franchised lottery. Sports betting, bingo and land-based casino games were the other main contributors to the British GGY.

The online sectors contribution was so low as to not be formally recognised in the Gambling Commission report. In fact at the time, it was estimated that only 4% of all bets in the UK were placed online.

Therefore it is no exaggeration to say that when Steve Jobs launched Apple’s first generation iPhone that online gambling was a very small industry with limited long-term prospects.

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In 2007 the majority of gambling in the UK was done in person at land-based casinos or betting shops

The iPhone Effect on Gambling

In the three to four years following the launch of the first iPhone, the world gradually began to adapt to the smartphone age. Phone coverage was improved all over the UK, allowing people to make the most of their phone’s internet capability when they were out and about.

Conventional media outlets also began to adapt to the smartphone age, producing apps and websites specifically geared for mobile users. At the same time, Apple’s competitors were hard at work producing rival devices which ultimately drove down the price of smartphones making them more and more accessible.

In 2014 the majority of Britons below the age of 55 owned a smartphone, and it was around then that online gambling companies began to wake up to the possibility of mobile app gambling.

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Up until that point, many industry leaders had sat back and watched on as TV streaming sites, newspapers and game development companies had invested heavily into smartphone capability and done nothing.

Why was Mobile Gambling Popular?

Anyone in the UK with access to an internet-enabled device from 1996 to 2014 was free to go online and spin the reels with slots, test out their poker skills or take on the dealer at blackjack. Yet relatively few people did, so why did it take the invention of the smartphone to make people think again?

One of the best explanations is that specifically designed mobile gambling apps made it easier than ever before for people to play their favourite casino games. Unlike PC’s and laptops, smartphones could be used on the sofa, on the bus or in the park making gambling a fun activity that could be played without any specific planning.

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In addition to this, mobile gambling apps actually performed better in the main than their desktop versions. The graphics and user interface available on a mobile device made online gambling seem, for the first time, like a really slick and fun activity.

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Mobile gambling is an all-round smoother and easier experience than PC or laptop gambling

How Important is Mobile Gambling?

The evidence given thus far in this article has been quite generalised, so to analyse just how important the mobile sector is to the gambling industry let’s delve down into some of the specific figures.

The GGY in the UK for the most recent year was £14.9 billion, which was a slight decrease on the year before – understandably as in 2020, most people had less money to spend on gambling than they did in the previous year.

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The National Lottery and sports betting accounted for around £6 billion of that figure and online gambling made up £5.2 billion of the remaining GGY.

Around 86% of those online revenues were made on mobile devices, which to put that into perspective means that the mobile gambling industry today is worth almost half of the total GGY of 2007.

In summary then, the advent of the smartphone in 2007 helped to transform online gambling from a niche into a billion pound industry. Had Steve Jobs unveiled a different device at MacWorld 14 years ago it’s very possible that we would be discussing online gambling in the same vein as we do today.

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