The gambling sector is one of the biggest mobile app success stories in terms of creating real value for customers and real revenue for companies who execute their strategies correctly.
Apps World Europe
, one of the world’s leading multi-platform apps events, is returning to London Olympia on 29-30 November, to learn more about how you can benefit from the explosive trend in gambling apps.
Apps World Blog caught up with one of the UK’s leading app developers, Mubaloo, which has produced apps for a number of major players in the gambling industry, to find out how the sector has grown recently and discuss how gaming brands are taking advantage of this lucrative new channel.
The UK is a global centre for online betting and gaming operators, and as such, companies like Mubaloo are at the forefront of the fast growing mobile gambling sector; with operator and software clients from around the world, including UK based companies who are market leaders in recently regulated countries like Italy.
Slow out of the traps
Mobile was slower to take off in the gambling sector than many had predicted, with a lot of the early gaming apps delivering little in the way of brand identity or unique usability; in fact most offerings constituted poorly optimised versions of brands’ desktop websites.
“Mobile gambling has been tipped to take off several times over the past decade, and although, under the radar to most observers, operators have taken, and continue to take, significant revenues through Java apps on small screen feature phones,” says John Mapperson, one of the key figures in Mubaloo’s project team.
However, while the technology may have been slower to catch up, the nature of betting and gambling lends itself to the mobile experience; and according to research released earlier this year, UK mobile gambling revenue more than doubled between 2009 and 2010 to £41m. The industry, it seems, has tipped the odds.
Since the iPhone launched in 2007, operators like William Hill, Ladbrokes and Betfair have begun to take real advantage of the channel, consistently reporting multiplying revenues and new users through their mobile operations.
The availability of widespread 3G, WiFi connectivity and sophisticated large screen smartphones and tablets has allowed operators and content providers to deliver engaging mobile apps that bring the action to players wherever they are.
Regulation and legislation
With issues around regulation never far from the heart of the gambling industry, some have expressed concerns that regulatory constrictions, not just from government but app stores too, could stifle the impressive growth we’re currently seeing.
The Mubaloo team, however, works on the belief that technology and development expertise can effectively balance the legislative pressure. “The gambling industry is used to regulation, and the operators understand they need to be just as responsible with their mobile apps as with high street stores and websites,” says Mapperson.
Working closely with operators, Mubaloo has implemented a number of features, such as restrictive geo-tagging, which ensures mobile gambling is only done in jurisdictions where the operators are licensed, and by age verified users.
In terms of the two main app stores, Apple’s App Store is the more gaming friendly. It puts all gambling apps through a legal process which ensures that all compliance is in place, though this can often be a frustratingly long process.
Google have taken a different approach; blocking all gambling apps from the Android Market, as they don’t check individual apps. “This is unfortunate,” says Mapperson. “But Android apps can be distributed directly via websites, 3rd party app stores and SMS, which makes the impact more just about app discovery.”
The new game
Gambling brands have begun to realise that their mobile apps need to offer as many of the features of their online offering as possible while staying true to the brand identity which these firms work so hard to cultivate; all within a user interface which is optimised for the small screen and individual device.
“Operators now want apps that stand out from the crowd and offer unique benefits, such as live in-play systems, personalisation and social elements,” says Mapperson. “Our clients want to make sure they create apps which are functional and easy to use, while taking advantage of the device features available.
“Apps have to be fast and fluid. Often gambling apps are integrated with multiple back end systems for odds, user accounts and payments; so the development of the app needs to be efficient to deliver a seamless experience for the user.”