Bright Outlook for Mobile Gaming
By: R. Kingsley, Monday December 8th 2008
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Two recent reports discussed the future of mobile gaming and both predicted a positive outlook. One was a report by Joe Saumarez-Smith based on the proceedings of the 5th Annual Mobile Gambling Summit in London. Saumarez-Smith is the CEO of a management-consulting firm to the gaming industry. The other report was based on a study conducted by Juniper Research and authored by Dr Windsor Holden.
Saumarez-Smith says that many of the obstacles to mobile gaming are being overcome. Most of the mobile-savvy segment is just under eighteen and is expected to cross the legal age for gambling in the next few years. This will give a tremendous boost to mobile gaming. Those presently of legal age are not all that mobile-savvy and hence are more comfortable with online gaming. The technology used in the handsets was an inhibiting factor because the interactivity was slow. When mobile gaming was first introduced four years ago, the response time was 16 seconds. This meant that a hand of poker would on average take 20 minutes and hence no one was interested. The response time is now down to 0.2 seconds, which puts mobile games on par with online games in this respect. Now gambling operators are becoming interested in pushing mobile gaming, as can be seen from the numerous mobile gaming launches by online casinos this year. Richard Hewitt, mobile product manager for Betfair, put things in proper perspective when he opined that mobile customers could spend two to three times the time playing games than could online customers. Hence it is extremely important for online casinos to get their customers started on mobile gaming, and this is what Betfair is doing. The greatest hurdle to mobile gaming is from the operators of mobile services. Whereas gambling companies and software providers are keen to push mobile gaming, operators like Telecom, Orange and Vodafone have been reluctant to take up mobile wagering in a significant manner.
The report from Juniper Research is more statistics oriented. It highlights that the major segment of mobile gambling is sports betting, which accounts for 75% of the market. Mobile casino gambling comes next. Today the U.K. contributes to 30% of mobile sports betting but this will fall drastically in the future as other countries take to mobile sports betting. The report says that the major restriction to the growth of mobile casino gambling is the lack of a clear and transparent regulatory mechanism. The report adds that mobile gambling will not be affected by the present economic downturn. It in fact predicts that mobile betting revenues will double in 2009.
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