At a time when most of us are living more and more online and relying on the internet for everything from doing our weekly shopping to searching for a partner, it’s no big surprise that it’s transformed the gambling industry too.
Go back twenty years or so and gambling options were considerably more limited. You could go to a casino, pop into a betting shop or use a bookmaker or the Tote at a horse racing meeting. But the arrival of widespread online accessibility has changed everything. So according to the Gambling Commission, the body that oversees all aspects of the industry, while the total gross gambling yield shrunk by 0.4% between October 2017and September 2018 compared with the April 2017-March 2018 figure while the amount raised by remote gambling actually rose by 2.9% over the same period.
Within the industry itself there has been another shift which has been gathering momentum for some time – that more and more people are choosing to play their favourite games on mobile devices instead of on the more traditional PCs or laptops. This is also in line with general internet usage which saw mobiles take the lead as long ago as 2016.
There are a couple of reasons behind this: penetration of devices and advances in technology.
In the case of the former, it’s estimated that around 95% of households have a smartphone with internet access. In the case of the latter, the devices’ sophistication has now become so technologically advanced that they can provide all the speed and flexibility that a PC can when connecting to the internet – but in a far more convenient and hand-held format.
Of course, we’re not simply talking about smartphones; tablets have larger screens which offer a number of other advantages for online players.
Because online casinos have always lived or died by staying well ahead of the curve technologically, they were quick to see the potential and worked with the creators of games to develop mobile versions.
In the early days these were fairly basic alternatives to the more complex PC games but as time has gone on the quality and playability have increased exponentially, particularly on the best mobile casinos. Now you can expect to find pin-sharp graphics, vibrant colours and smooth action in all the most popular games. For the majority of online casinos, slots are the literal big money spinners so it’s a very lucky coincidence that the shape and format of the mobile screen is in almost perfect proportion to show the reels in action.
One of the greatest challenges has been modifying the controls which need a keyboard and mouse (or trackpad) on a PC or laptop to ones that can be activated on a touch screen. But, rather than this becoming an inconvenience for players, in many case it’s actually enhanced the playing experience.
This is just one of the ways that mobile play has made online gambling more convenient. The fact that almost wherever you go in the world there is access to a broadband wi-fi network means that the dedicated online visitor to gambling sites can play whenever and wherever they want, even if it’s just grabbing a quick five minutes while they’re waiting for a train or enjoying a break in their busy day.
But it’s not just about how the rise of mobile gambling sites has changed the way people play, it’s also started to introduce whole new demographics and generations of player too. For example, gambling always used to be a fairly male-dominated activity but there is a definite trend for more women to take part as well. This may be because it offers the excitement of gambling without having to enter a traditionally male dominated environment like a casino or even a betting shop.
Naturally, the sites themselves have started to recognise this fact and are including more and more female-focused games ranging from bingo to slots and which also have chat rooms and other social media features attached to them.
Similarly, there’s been an increasing trend for the younger age group of 18-24 year olds to start using mobile gambling sites. This has been a particularly exciting development as previously they had proved to be hard to reach, concentrating more on sports and in-play betting than on casino games. But as a group who spend more time on their phones and other mobile devices than almost any other it’s not entirely surprising that they’ve now discovered online casinos too.
This increasing move towards mobile gaming is also one that is certain to increase, fuelled by many of the drivers that have brought us to this point. As smartphones continue to develop and 5G is introduced to provide even faster speeds the games are likely to become more complex, quicker and more enjoyable to play and that’s going to mean just one thing – even more people wanting to play.