Will Mobile Gaming Overtake Traditional Online Gaming?


With the number of smartphone users set to increase by more than 500 million to 2.8 billion in the next three years, there’s no doubt mobiles are going to become more important in the gaming world. Over the last decade we’ve seen the online casino, poker and betting industry evolve from a fairly rudimentary handful of mobile sites to one that’s bursting at the seams with slick apps and more. Indeed, whether it’s an iOS app featuring TouchID logins and shake-to-play technology or an optimised HTML5 site capable of working on any device, there are more ways to bet on the go than ever.

Naturally, as this technology continues to establish itself, the obvious question becomes: will mobile gaming ever overtake traditional online gaming? Well, in reality, the two mediums won’t ever cancel each other out. In fact, the most likely scenario is that we'll see greater integration and crossovers in the coming years as technology improves. But, given the way that other mediums are moving, it wouldn’t be crazy to assume that smartphones and tablets will soon become the default gambling medium.

Mobile Using is on the Up

When you look at the smartphone community at large, people are spending more time on their mobiles than ever before. In the UK, Statista’s research shows that the average person spends 2 hours 9 minutes per day on their phones, while US users are closer to 2 hours 37 minutes. At the top of the pile, China’s smartphone population is content to stare at the screen for 3 hours 3 minutes, while Brazilians take things even further with an average usage time of 4 hours 48 minutes.

Sure, people using their phones more doesn’t necessarily mean mobile gaming is about to take over. But when you compare two figures from Statista, it’s easy to see why games may be one of the go-to options for mobile users. According to the numbers, mobile content was worth $59.8 billion / £44.6 billion in 2017. Alongside this, mobile games' revenue topped $40.6 billion / £30.2 billion during the same period. Although these two numbers aren’t directly correlated, they do suggest that gaming is a significant part of the industry. Mobile casino gaming falls under this definition – and its influence is growing.

People Prefer to Bet Online

Looking more specifically at the betting industry, the latest financial report from the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) shows that online revenue is now worth £4.7 billion. Aside from increasing 10.1% on the previous accounting period, the figures from April 2016 to March 2017 show that virtual betting is now the dominant medium. Within this figure, slots generated £1.6 million in gross gambling yield (GGY). Given that slots are one of the most popular mobile betting options in the industry, we can make the assumption that greater slots revenue means more gaming on the go.

Then, if we look at the operators themselves, more and more of them appear to be drawing the bulk of their online revenue from mobile users. For example, during Q3 2017, Royal Panda drew 66% of its earnings from mobile players. Similarly, when 888 Gaming released its latest revenue report in November 2017, the data showed an increase in mobile activity. Following on from H1 2016, which saw 56% of revenue come from mobile betting, 888’s mobile division generated 69% of the company’s H1 revenue in 2017.

More Money, More Activity, More Opportunities

While the above are just two examples, they do reflect recent findings from the UKGC. In its 2017 Online Gambling Behaviour summary, the regulator showed that 43% of online gamblers now use their mobile or tablet, while 55% use a laptop. Despite the continued dominance of the latter, a closer look at the figures reveals that mobile activity is up by 10%, while desktop betting is down by 6%.

Basically, whichever way you run the numbers, it looks as though mobile usage is on the up. In fact, when you combine all these stats with the advancement of technology such as augmented and virtual reality, there’s every chance we could be ditching our desktops for mobiles in the coming years.