Mobile gambling is without doubt one of the key markets in the iGaming industry right now. Any operator worth their salt has delved into the mobile market – be their involvement through the form of a mobile site or application. At the very least operators should be developing or planning their mobile strategies regardless of which geographic market they’re targeting.
For gambling companies, mobile platforms have almost been similar to the emergence of the internet. Issues regarding formatting, engagement, retention and content have all been brought to the surface with many teams starting from scratch.
However, now iGaming firms should be looking to begin optimising their mobile performance – after all, it has provided big boosts to many of their revenues without any exorbitant effort. The publishing of the Mobile Gambling Report by Aideen Shortt (Aideen Shortt interview) signifies that rather than learning as we go, mobile operators should be at a stage where they know what works.
Nowhere is this more true than in the online casino sector where the recent launch of Microgaming’s Android Air platform marks the new era of mobile casinos – mobile casinos 2.0 if you will.
Microgaming’s latest development was released into the mobile world at the beginning of this month and went live with a large number of Microgaming powered casinos including Spin Palace and Jackpot City.
With this latest Android platform come a couple of changes to the mobile casinos that we are used to. To begin with, the casino can be downloaded in its entirety and include a good-looking lobby to welcome players in. However, Adobe Air has to be downloaded before any gaming can take place – while this doesn’t necessarily represent much of a problem, it does mean two downloads instead of just one.
The good news is that that has to be pretty much the only negative aspect of this new development. The lobby is currently home to a reasonable selection of eight mobile games but Microgaming vowed to increase this number by ‘20 or more between now and the end of the year’ in their announcement.
As well simply having a larger selection of games, the all-new Android Air lobby is also home to promotions, banking, options and customer support features – many of which are new to mobile casinos. The ability to instantly chat with support officers and view available bonuses means that mobile casinos are gaining ground on their online counterparts rapidly.
Microgaming’s enthusiasm in the mobile market comes as no surprise. Earlier this year Microgaming’s head of casino Mike Hebden revealed that he believed mobile could be the key when looking to outdo their strongest rivals in the software sector – Playtech.
He said: “Perhaps the most exciting of all opportunities are the ones represented by Smartphone and tablet interfaces.”
Following the launch of the Android Air platform, Neill Whyte, head of product channels at Microgaming echoed this opinion and emphasised how significant he felt this new platform could be.
“Mobile has been a key part of Microgaming’s strategy for the past few years. We feel our revolutionary product will have a huge impact on the mobile market and gaming industry as a whole.
“Microgaming has a portfolio of gaming assets in the industry, which we can leverage to fully exploit the opportunity that the rapid growth in Android based Smartphones represents.”
Of course, the iGaming industry is far from a monopoly and there will be a number of software developers and operators who don’t use Microgaming with similar ambitions.
It would in no way be surprising if the new Research and Development team being recruited by bet365 were going to be tasked with creating new mobile platforms. bet365 are known for being at the cutting edge of technology and their in-play betting options are particularly impressive from mobiles. However, their mobile casino effort may be some way behind as it offers just four games.
Similarly, William Hill work with Playtech and only offer the four games. However, they’ve taken a slightly different approach to mobile betting by combining different products on their mobile site. While this site is primarily for sports betting, it does include their casino game selection along with a few other options.
With the amount staked on William Hill mobile products having increased 250% year on year, the bookmakers are bound to be looking to beef up all of their mobile products.
Mobile is being taken so seriously in the casino world that there are many promotions specific to mobile and advertising of mobile products has increased massively. Both of the above operators are among the leaders in this area and they will undoubtedly be looking to continue in this vein.
bet365’s Mobile Slots Tournaments, exclusive mobile bonus provide players with features they can’t take advantage of online while William Hill’s eye-catching TV adverts are sure to draw customers in.
Whereas mobile casinos have previously provided a much slimmed down version of online casinos, they now present a competitive option. Rather than having to choose between the quality of online casinos and the ease of access of mobile casinos, gamblers are soon to be offered the best of both worlds as mobile casinos continue to evolve.