Much like all the other fields of gaming, gambling has been moving to mobile devices at an astonishing rate for the past few years. It's extremely likely that the majority of online gambling will be played on a mobile device in the future and I'd be willing to bet a lot of money for the shift to happen within the next 2-4 years.
With global mobile gaming revenue reaching $10,000,000,000 (yes, that's billions of dollars) and about 144 million mobile gamers in the US alone, mobile gaming is not just the future though - it's here now, and more-so than ever online gambling companies are recognizing the challenges and opportunities that come along with it.
We gamble on mobile almost exclusively nowadays. Our camp is divided into Apple fanatics and Android users. We have phones and tablets for both iOS and Android so you can be sure of that all of these sites have been tried and tested on a variety of devices.
We have hundreds of hours of experience on using mobile gambling software to play for real money (with both Android and iOS). We've even travelled to iGaming Super Shows to see the latest developments in the field and feel like we can give you a good idea of where to play gambling games on mobile devices now and in the future.
How We Ranked These Mobile Sites
We look at online gambling sites from a mobile point-of-view but also pay attention to the essentials such as customer service, software quality and overall reliability. We refuse to list sites that fail to treat customers fairly even if they had spectacular mobile software - for example, we were impressed with the software the Revenue Jet group of casinos has available but players are having problems with getting their winnings paid.
What to Play on a Mobile Device
All of the most popular internet gambling destinations have moved to mobile already - however, as in any business, some are doing it better than others. There are real-money sites completely dedicated to mobile and such dedication has paid-off handsomely for a select few. The majority of the industry consists of desktop-first casinos, poker rooms and betting sites that have since transitioned to mobile.
Real-money mobile wagering can be divided into three categories: sports betting, casino games and online poker. Customers of each category have different kinds of needs for playing on a mobile device and certain types of wagering are harder to make for mobile in a way that retains the quality of the experience.
Here are the best devices for different forms of gambling:
We love to check the latest odds on the go, keep up-to-date with the latest scores and results and place bets fast when the situation calls for it. Our Android smartphones and iPhones are perfect for that, suggesting the betting site has well-functioning software and a well thought-out user interface.
Tablets, on the other hand, have large enough screens to display all your favourite casino games just like you want to see them. We don't get the same thrill out of playing casino games on our mobile phones but tablets seem like the perfect match. I've played countless hours of real-money games on my iPad and I consider it the best way to play casino games online. You can take your tablet anywhere you want with you which is awesome just at home but makes travelling more entertaining as well.
Mobile poker is the only form of gambling that has lagged behind. Playing poker on smartphones might never become a big deal unless smartphone screens become increasingly large since poker needs a certain amount of space for you to be able to see all the cards and chip counts clearly -- in addition, you need all the necessary functions available as well. We prefer to play poker on our desktop computers and only in rare instances on our tablets.
Apps and Browser-Based Games
According to App Store Review Guidelines, companies are allowed to offer real-money gambling apps in App Store if they're licensed in their jurisdiction and the apps don't include in-app purchases. In other words, there are no real-money gambling apps for most of the US since only a few states have legalized and licensed operators but the rest of the world already have plenty of them. The guidelines also mean you won't be able to make deposits through the mobile app. (Apple is notoriously strict and have pulled sites like PokerStars and 888 Poker from their Australian App Store because the sites weren't licensed to operate in Australia.)
Android has followed Apple's example: they only allow real-money apps with a license in the user's location and restrict players from depositing through the mobile interface.
All mobile gambling sites have browser-based software as well and that's the most common way for mobile gamers to play for real cash -- apps are still a relatively new thing (App Store started allowing real-money apps in 2013). Playing through a browser is the only way for most of the US to play real-money games on their mobile devices. Many of these in-browser betting sites and casinos are easy to use and feel like an actual application.
Which Device Is Best for Gambling?
Originally, we were going to do a more in-depth review of each device but we quickly noticed that the biggest difference is not between the devices but rather between the operating systems (they're built a little different). Gambling on an iPhone is somewhat different from gambling on Android phones, but the differences between a Motorola, Samsung or HTC phone are smaller. Some of us prefer Apple's products and some of us prefer Android but it would be foolish to claim a big difference between them.
In general, the bigger the screen, the better the experience. We haven't tried any of the less popular Android phones so we can't speak for them though. We also prefer larger screen sizes for tablets in general so if one had to choose, we'd rather go for the standard tablet than a mini-tablet.
Desktop vs. Mobile - What's the Difference
Aside from the obvious difference (screen size), what's different about how mobile games and user interfaces are made when compared to their desktop counterparts? For one, mobile interfaces usually have less of everything. Less options, less functions and - perhaps most importantly - less games. There's a little bit of minimalist in all of us at Gaming the Odds so we actually like it since it forces software providers to get rid of all the extra.
Many of our readers are also wondering if security is any different between these two device types. Our common opinion is that you actually have less to worry about on mobile devices when it comes to software security. The security risk is losing the device and having "Remember Password" options enabled which would then allow someone to log-in to your account. Make sure to keep your device safe while not allowing the software to remember any of your passwords and you should be just as OK (if not more) as if you were on a desktop.