THE BLOG
28/10/2013 10:12 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Mobile Gambling: A Gambler In Every Home?

Mobile gambling encompasses roulette, slots, blackjack, poker and sports betting, with wagers put on at the swipe of a finger within minutes of signing up to an online casino, and full HD graphics are now the norm.

Once upon a time, the closest gambling and telephones had in the way of a meaningful partnership was using your phone to contact your bookie on a Saturday afternoon to back a few winners in that day's races.

Today, however, gambling and your smartphone are having a torrid love affair.

Mobile gambling encompasses roulette, slots, blackjack, poker and sports betting, with wagers put on at the swipe of a finger within minutes of signing up to an online casino, and full HD graphics are now the norm.

Mobile gambling, as opposed to gaming (sorry, Call of Duty fans, we don't mean you) is big business, and with the exponential rise in smartphone technology, so the range of software and gaming apps on offer to gamblers new and old is staggering.

FROM SNAKE TO SLOTS

The ability to download games has taken the evolution of mobile gaming into uncharted territory. While Angry Birds sets records for mobile downloads, online betting sites are catching up.

Since Nokia sold 160 million 3210 handsets with a clumsy but addictive game called Snake that sawoffice workers the world over wasting valuable man-hours, the processing power of phones today means the complexity of games has grown year on year.

14 years since those early phones - past Nokia's first smartphone and HTC's first 3G phone, the Universal - today's best smartphones are powerhouses of gaming, packed with multi-core processors and sophisticated graphics chips, plus tonnes of memory and hi-res touch-screens, meaning you can get even more spins of the roulette wheel at the tap of a screen.

And with first Bluetooth, and then Wi-Fi, enabling players to multi-play over the Internet, it means even Android gamers can get in on the act, with global poker games happening every second of every day.

GAMBLING SITES PLAYING CATCH-UP

Ever since Slippery Sid was the height of mobile gaming back in the late 1990s, big casino firms have had their eye on mobile devices.

And why not? As long as the App Stores are happy to stock the clients, there will always be a willing public ready to download roulette and blackjack in minutes. And if there's no app, 'instant play' betting sites that can be accessed by your smartphone's web browser are just as good, incorporating Flash, Java, HTML5, or a smorgasbord of the three.

TABLETS - AN EASY PILL TO SWALLOW

The tablet revolution was almost purpose-built for the rise in mobile gambling. Just take the new Samsung Galaxy S4 with a 1.9GHz quad-core processor and a 5-inch 1080p Full HD super AMOLED display, or the newest iPad, both capable of handling the most complex gaming software. Meanwhile, the Google Nexus 7 tablet - with over 2.3 million pixels for full HD wonder - can handle online slots that come with increasingly detailed animation and expensive cutaway scenes.

And while non-tech savvy online gamblers might not care a hoot about those stats, they certainly will care if the online casino experience they've been used to sitting at their powerful PC isn't replicated on their tablet.

MOBILE GAMBLING - THE EASY-ACCESS WAY TO BET

Anyone who's given Facebook even the most cursory of glances will know all about Zynga, the gaming firm that sprung up via the social network site with its free-play poker games and moved into real-money gambling this year. Although Zynga's real-money move hasn't all been plain sailing, they are arguably as responsible as any of the established gambling firms in getting traditional non-gambling online players into casino games and poker.

It's in the world of online slots particularly where the mobile revolution is coming to the fore. 3D video slots which now take up acres of space of land-based casino floors and draw in online gambling fans to online casinos in their thousands are being adapted to fit mobile phone screens. With slots getting more and more sophisticated, therefore, you'll want something that's going to make that all-singing, all-dancing 3D slot look as slick as it does on your PC.

KNOW WHEN TO HOLD'EM

Poker players too are beginning to enjoy the fruits of the mobile revolution. While online poker has been around since the late 1990s - and has been extremely popular, if hugely controversial too, especially in the US - it allows online 'phenoms' to play anytime, anywhere, for real money just by logging into a secure account or downloading a client to their smartphone.

Serious pros will often 'multi-table' - i.e. play on up to 24 tables at once - in order to improve their ROI (Return on Investment). Bear in mind that many real money players will be trying to play through as many hands as they can online in order to trigger a lucrative bonus from their favorite poker room.

Playing on a smartphone or tablet on the move makes that even more possible. After all, how easy is it to get out the phone on the bus or train and fire up a few games of Texas Hold'em to kill a spare half-hour?

THE RISE OF MOBILE GAMBLING ADDICTION

As with all forms of gambling, risks of addiction threaten, and with easier access to mobile devices, it's no surprise that problem gambling has risen.

Recent figures from GamCare - the UK-based gambling advice service helping victims of addiction - suggest that the number of 18-35 year olds contacting the hotline has risen for the third consecutive year.

GamCare's figures show more than 60% of their calls in the past 12 months were from that age group and that smartphone and online betting are playing a big part in the rise of young people developing gambling problems.

 

A SAFE AND SECURE ENVIRONMENT

While it's true that gambling is more widely available these days, it doesn't mean regulation and ID checks have gone out the window. Mobile casino firms take security very seriously, and as such have stringent ID checks to prevent underage gambling, as well as complex security measures in place to stop money laundering and ID theft.

 

And mindful of the ease with which gamblers can place bets, some online casinos and gambling sites have started initiating self-imposed 'fail safe' betting limits for gamblers to ensure they stay within their means.

 

THE FUTURE OF MOBILE GAMBLING

Just as online gambling didn't kill off land-based casinos (far from it), it is unlikely that mobile gaming will spell the death knell for traditional gambling via a PC or Mac. It certainly will, however, attract a new and eager market to gambling who maybe wouldn't have tried it before. After all, if you make something more accessible, chances are more people will take it up, especially those who a) like the convenience factor, and b) are intimidated by big, scary land-based casinos or cardrooms.

In the United States in particular, mobile gambling serves up yet another headache to a federal government unfriendly to US-wide online gambling. With gambling sites and apps ever more available to Americans, the tide of technology may threaten to override any existing laws governing cross-border gambling online.

 

In fact, as we have seen recently with recent legislation easing certain states' positions on Internet gambling, similar laws may be applied to smartphone use too. With the mobile gaming industry predicted to reach $54 billion by 2015 in the States alone, that's too tempting for online casino and betting site operators to ignore.

 

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