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Mobile has long been heralded as the future of online gambling, and it's easy to see why; according to data from technology intelligence provider Dynmark, the value of bets placed via mobile devices is expected to reach $100 billion by 2018, with 164 million people using mobile devices to place a bet, visit a mobile casino or buy a lottery ticket.
The context behind this boom is, of course, the rapid growth of smartphone and tablet uptake over the past few years, with punters increasingly looking to engage in their favourite hobby while on-the-go. To accommodate the boom in mobile gambling products, a wealth of mobile software suppliers have popped up graying the once limited industry.
Given the rise of smartphone usage, many online casino operators have been keen to capitalise on the trend by launching mobile offerings. In general, these can be divided into two broad categories: sites which have been coded using HTML5 and sites which have launched a dedicated mobile app.
The benefits of HTML5 are considerable: it allows for built-in video and audio playback, compatibility across all the major browsers, and user-friendly responsive design – which means that web pages are automatically optimised for the mobile screen, eliminating the need for time-consuming horizontal scrolling.
On the other hand, dedicated mobile apps also have plenty of advantages. They're highly accessible, enabling the user to launch the casino direct from their phone 'home screen' without browser navigation, and typically provide a pared-back interface that makes it easy to find your favourite games quickly.
The challenge for casino operators, when it comes to mobile apps, is that each type of operating system (iOS, Android, Windows Phone) has its own coding conventions – which means effectively building a unique app for each system, requiring significantly more development resource.
However, it looks like, for companies willing to put in the effort, there are substantial gains to be made. According to data from Flurry, mobile users spend 86% of their time on mobile inside apps rather than inside the browser, which indicates that people really do prefer the app-based experience over browser surfing.
There are a number of B2B software development firms leading the way in the mobile space, creating top-quality games and platforms for online casino operators. In the sports betting arena, Mobenga is one of the most respected names. Founded in 2005 and based in Sweden, its strategy is very much focused on multi-channel gaming solutions, and it now counts well-known mobile casinos including Paddy Power and Ladbrokes among its clients.
Microgaming is another firm leading the way in mobile innovation, having developed award-winning games and software in coding languages such as .NET, C++, C#, Java, Adobe Flash and HTML5 for platforms including Windows, Mac, Android and iOS. As well as developing a formidable slate of mobile-friendly titles (in particular, a fantastic range of slots), Microgaming can also claim to have created the world’s first ever online slot for the Samsung Gear 2 smartwatch: 'The Dark Knight Rises™'.
Industry giant Playtech continues to assert its dominance in the mobile sector with the 2012 launch of its Mobile Hub: an 'open framework' designed to help casino and sports betting operators offer players a full range of games and content across smartphones and tablets, via a customisable branded interface.
Leading developer NetEntertainment is another firm putting mobile at the heart of its strategy, having developed its NetEnt Touch™ portfolio of mobile-optimised games, adapted from its most popular desktop titles. Developed for iOS, Android and Windows, and built on HTML 5 technology, NetEnt's Touch™ games are designed to work seamlessly on mobile, maintaining the integrity of its high-quality graphics, sounds and features.
As discussed, there are plenty of excellent casinos now offering a top-notch mobile experience, whether that's through an app, an optimised in-browser site – or both. For example, Leo Vegas Mobile (which won "Mobile Casino Product of the Year" at the EGR Innovation Awards 2014) has built a mobile-responsive site that works seamlessly across iOS, Android and Windows devices, as well as dedicated apps for iPhone and iPad.
Similarly, Winner Mobile provides a user-friendly mobile-optimised site, offering a wide range of popular slots and table games from the desktop site, as well as a selection of dedicated apps available at the Apple App Store and Google Play store for Android users. Its interest-targeted apps include Sports Betting, Casino, Bingo and Slots.
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