In just about every way you can think of, online casinos and gambling brands have always been amongst the very earliest adopters of new and developing technology, and one particular area in which they have consistently been at the forefront is mobile apps. Whether it’s sports betting, bingo or mobile casinos, online gaming has always been a pioneer in pushing the boundaries of what technology can do.
Although mobile sports betting first began in 2005 after the development of 3G, mobile casino games only really started coming into their own with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, and the ability this revolutionary device gave players to purchase games or download apps for themselves from iTunes, rather than going through a phone manufacturer or mobile network, as had been the case with earlier games that were either factory-installed on a phone, or used WAP or Java.
The market expanded further in 2008 when Google Play opened (then called the Android Market) and so both iOS and Android users now had the opportunity to choose from the hundreds of gaming apps that were appearing overnight from developers attempting to cash in on this burgeoning market. (Interestingly, after getting out of the industry in 2013, Google Play in the UK began accepting real money gambling apps once more in August 2017.)
An arguably even more important development was the introduction of HTML5 technology in 2010, which has meant that the same game can be played across platforms, whether it’s a desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet. This has been a boon for the player, as it has also increased mobile gaming choice and variety by enabling operators to offer games by more than one developer on the same site.
What makes a good mobile casino?
While increased choice and variety is great for the player, it does nevertheless present its own challenges — how do you choose from the extensive range of mobile casino apps on the market today?
When you’re choosing online casino apps, it’s the range and quality of the games that will have the biggest impact on the quality of your experience. Not that long ago, mobile gaming technology was fairly rudimentary and as such some online casinos regarded their mobile sites as something of an afterthought. The selection of games was limited, the UIs were clumsy and, quite frankly, the gameplay could only be described as clunky at best.
The landscape in this regard has now changed completely. Not only has the technology improved beyond recognition, but the degree to which we use our phones now has soared as well, and this has meant that online casino operators have undergone a complete change in mindset with regard to their mobile casino sites, with many new entrants to the industry proudly proclaiming themselves as ‘mobile first’.
As a consequence, the range of mobile slots and other games that can be played via casino apps is now enormous and growing all the time, with games by leading developers like Microgaming, NetEnt and Playtech available in mobile casinos alongside the slots of smaller, boutique producers. When you’re choosing a mobile casino app, you should select one that features games in all categories that are produced by a major industry name. If the choice is limited, or there are no progressive jackpot slots for instance, then move on as you will undoubtedly be able to find a better option.
Check out the user interface (UI) too, and how well the games are categorized, as this is an especially important feature on the smaller screens of phones and tablets. Can you quickly and easily find the title of a favourite game, for instance, or a particular category of game? A well-designed mobile casino app should enable you to do this in an instant — if not, keep looking as you will find plenty of apps where this feature is outstanding.
A good casino app should also make it easy and convenient to operate your account, by providing payment methods in GBP and straightforward means of contacting customer services, as well as the ability to adjust your settings and notifications so that you can keep up to date with promotions and special offers. Again, if this isn’t the case with a particular mobile casino app you’re considering, then walk away, as these are the minimum requirements that players should demand from a casino app today.
Why are mobile casino apps booming?
The rapid development of mobile apps has not only been accelerated by technological progress, but it has also been a direct response to the growing amount of time we all spend on our phones. With 66% of adults in the UK using mobile devices to connect to the internet, and 18% of adults living in mobile-only homes, it has become an absolute business necessity for operators in any sort of online industry, not least gaming, to devote a significant majority of their time and resources to the mobile side of their enterprise. And when you consider that the average UK adult spends 66 hours a month connected to the internet via a mobile phone, it’s no wonder that mobile apps continue to be the fastest growing and most dynamic part of the online gaming industry.
The future of mobile casinos
When you stop to consider just how far and how fast mobile casino apps have come in a decade, there would seem to endless possibilities as to where they might go in the future.
In terms of the sheer number of mobile casino games that you can now choose from, for instance, HTML5 web-based games have meant that there are no longer restrictions on how many mobile slots and other games a casino can offer. This not only means more choice for us as players, but it has also opened the door for new developers to enter the industry, as they no longer need a portfolio of games large enough to supply an entire casino — instead, they just require a handful of games to get established in the industry. These new names have undoubtedly accelerated innovation (both their own and that of their competitors), and so gameplay has become more imaginative and engaging as a result. This will continue to be an area in which change will be quick and significant, as producers vie with each other to design more intriguing special features, bigger payouts, and more creative themes and characters.
Greater personalization of the mobile gaming experience is another development that industry watchers predict that we will see more of. The ability to ‘build’ your own slots games, for instance, based on your own personal playing style and preferences is an option that we can look forward to seeing in mobile casinos, as well as bonuses, promotions and other rewards that are more tailored to the individual. This may also lead to a shift in mobile casino culture, as the quality and personalized nature of the whole playing experience becomes the means of attracting and retaining players, more than traditional cash incentives.
A technological development that is already in play, but which we could see expand, is the idea of ‘immersive’ live dealer games, where there are more cameras and a greater variety of angles and features, and which combine to create a more holistic experience. It’s also not hard to imagine this ultimately incorporating virtual reality (VR) games, where the player will not only be able to interact with the dealer and other players on the screen, but can also ‘physically’ handle the cards or chips as well.
There is also the possibility that commentary will be incorporated into mobile casino games, which will give spectators the opportunity to watch online games being played while at the same time broadcasting live to their friends and followers their own thoughts and interactions (in the manner of PewDiePie), and thus participate in and contribute to the vibe and atmosphere without actually playing. This is likely to be driven by the next generation of online casino players who have grown up watching videos of other people playing video games on YouTube, and while for many of us the concept of gaining enjoyment from just watching others play and talking about it may seem bizarre (not to mention pointless!), it’s undoubtedly a market that someone will be attempting to exploit as we speak. After all, many of us said the same thing about poker on TV!
While all of this might seem a long way off, it’s important to remind ourselves what mobile casino games were like only ten years ago, and how they look positively primitive compared to today’s games. Imagine what another ten years of development could produce…