The Poker Faces of Mobile Gambling
There is, I would venture to suggest, the odd liberty taken with the actualité when it comes to the marketing of remote casino services. Visit any such site, and draped across the landing page you will find the supposed paradigm of an online poker player: a twentysomething lady of fairly obvious physical charms. I then attempt to reconcile this with a mental image of poker night at the Four Chesnuts, where Keith, Jez, Simon, Brad, Richard et al are the local poker sharks (or so they try to convince me). Now, far be it for me to say that these fine gentlemen do not possess obvious physical charms, but it is fair to say that – like your author – most of them won’t see forty again, and in some cases neither will their waistlines. If you draped one or two of them across a landing page, they’d break it. In truth, we all know why the young ladies - and the odd young gentleman - are on the landing page; us fortysomethings with receding hairlines and expanding waistlines aren’t the first individuals you’d turn to advertise anything, unless perhaps you were looking for worst-case exemplars for a “Fast Food, No Exercise Lifestyle” public information film. But while the images on the landing page clearly have some impact, it also helps if (a) you have a device which is conducive to playing casino games in the first place and (b) if you can play such games without you (and the service provider) being thrown into chokey as such gameplay is illegal in your jurisdiction. Taking point (a) to begin with: mobile gambling activity has soared over the past two years. The major online sportsbooks – Ladbrokes, William Hill, Paddy Power – are all now seeing around 40% of their sportsbook users accessing their services via a mobile device, while around 20% of wager occurs on the mobile. Activity has increased to such an extent that mobile is beginning to move on from being a purely retentive tool: the rise in “solus” – mobile only – customers means that mobile will increasingly becoming an acquisitive channel. Furthermore, these players have augmented their sportsbooks with casino-type gaming: poker, roulette, blackjack. In some cases – such as Paddy Power’s roulette game – these include apps optimised for tablets, designed for a richer, more immersive multiplayer experience. Point (b): this growth has occurred in the UK because of a relatively well-thought out and implemented regulatory structure. Growth has started to accelerate – finally – in continental Europe in part because (as my previous blog entry observed) action was taken by the European Commission to introduce competitive frameworks into the monopolistic national gambling markets. One corollary of this has been that remote casino gaming in Italy has soared.
Likewise, in the US, the landmark verdict last year by the Department of Justice that the country’s Wire Act applied only to sports betting; at a stroke, this meant that states could begin the process of preparing for the introduction of online poker and lottery services. A number are already well advanced in that process, and mobile is expected to form a key part of any online services offered by licensees. Given the scale of online gambling in the country prior to the 2005 crackdown, the opportunity across all online channels – desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone – is substantial to say the least.
Hence, as our recent report observes, while sports betting currently accounts for the lion’s share of mobile gambling wager worldwide, the likelihood is that – particularly given the anticipated activity across the US – within five years, these sums (if not the gross win that results) will be eclipsed by the various forms of mobile casino betting. Some of which may even be placed by the young ladies who feature on the landing pages.