Whether it’s an online casino, virtual sports betting or social gambling apps, mobile gaming is giving gambling a new makeover. But with concerns around underage gambling and the risks of addiction, it’s a challenge to design experiences that will encourage the right behaviours without causing harm. This article outlines some of the most important considerations for designers looking to incorporate gambling features into their mobile games and experiences.
Several studies have shown that mobile gambling is different from other forms of remote gambling, such as Internet and desktop computer games. These differences include the sensing capabilities of smartphones versus other remote gambling hardware, where gambling is played and the type of games that are played. In addition, mobile gambling is often more psychologically intense than other forms of gambling due to the constant reinforcement and short intertrial intervals. These characteristics have led some researchers to suggest that the behavioural processes associated with mobile gambling may be more risky than other forms of online gambling.
While mobile devices are more portable than PCs, the ability to access gambling games is still limited by network and device capability. Many mobile gaming platforms, such as Google Play and Apple’s App Store, restrict gambling apps from offering real money winnings. In addition, most mobile games are designed for casual play and therefore do not require substantial financial investments. This has created a market for apps that allow users to practice and hone their gambling skills for free or at a low cost.
In addition to enabling players to practice gambling strategies, these apps also offer privacy-preserving features, such as encryption and pseudonyms. This has enabled them to be used by people who are unable to visit physical betting clubs because of their location, work or other personal restrictions. These apps enable them to research betting markets, types of bets and more, while protecting their privacy and avoiding the risks of visiting physical gambling venues.
The popularity of mobile gambling apps has increased dramatically over the past few years, and they are expected to continue to increase in popularity. The games available on mobile phones are diverse and range from classic casino games to virtual sports betting. The majority of these are free-to-play and do not involve any financial stakes, but some do allow the player to gamble for real money. In 2020, mobile casinos were the fourth highest consumer spend among mobile gaming genres.
While incorporating gambling features into mobile game experiences can offer many opportunities for marketers, it’s critical to consider the ethical concerns that surround encouraging these activities. There are valid concerns about underage gambling, the emergence of problematic behaviours and the socioeconomic implications of gambling debts. However, good execution can help to balance these issues and make mobile gambling a positive experience for consumers. As the mobile gaming landscape continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how brands and developers can take advantage of the opportunity to make gambling more accessible to a wide variety of consumers.