The proliferation of mobile devices offers a wide range of opportunities to engage in online gambling. The newest cell phones are essentially mini-PCs, with full operating systems, heavy-duty processor power and high-resolution color screens. Combined with sophisticated software and a variety of sensors, these devices can provide an immersive gambling experience that is distinct from traditional online games. In addition, they can be used anywhere a user might find themselves, making them more accessible than ever before.
The ubiquity of smartphones has spawned an entire industry dedicated to the development of mobile gambling apps and adapted websites. Some of these sites allow players to gamble for real money through the site’s regulated gaming licenses in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia and Connecticut. Others go a step further and offer downloadable gambling apps that allow players to play the same games they would on their desktops through their smartphones.
As the mobile gambling market continues to develop, it’s important to examine the relationship between these apps and psychological processes that may be relevant to this form of gambling. This manuscript reviews the extant literature on the topic and considers how associative learning might impact mobile gambling behaviour. In particular, it examines the role of reinforcement schedules and how these might affect gambling behaviour, including problem gambling. It also surveys the kinds of games available on these platforms and explores the context in which they might be played.
While betting remains the most prevalent form of mobile gambling, there appears to be growing interest in casino style games. Annual reports and financial returns of major UK operators indicate that the majority of their revenues are obtained from betting activities but that casino gaming is increasing. These trends suggest that the emergence of mobile gambling is likely to involve a convergence between Internet and land-based forms of gambling.
Until recently, the graphical and processing limitations of mobile phones prevented the creation of rich environments for gambling games. However, the newest smartphone hardware allows for a wide range of sensors that can create a gambling experience that is more personalized than traditional Internet and other online gambling. Although it is unclear whether this unique gambling environment has the potential to promote harmful gambling habits, business analysis of the mobile gambling market suggests that this could be a possibility in the future.
In addition to being more portable, the convenience of a mobile gambling game can save users time and effort that might be lost in logging into a website or downloading an application on a computer. In addition, mobile casinos are able to host a larger selection of games than their physical counterparts, meaning that users will have more options to choose from when playing. This makes the convenience of a mobile gambling game an attractive proposition for many people. It also helps people to avoid the hassle of going out to a brick-and-mortar casino, which can be frustrating and expensive.