Trends in the evolution of mobile online casinos


Man with glasses excitedly plays on smartphone with vibrant floating game devices.

Mobile games have always had some dose of randomness to them. Even Snake on Nokia mobile phones put the food pellet in a random spot on the screen. However, mobile casinos have taken randomness to the next level, making it an integral part of gameplay. Besides that, they have been showing distinct evolutionary trends in the last decade. They became a fully-fledged source of entertainment that boasts instant accessibility and allows social contact.

Their target audiences are casual and hardcore players alike, who can use online casinos to test their skills, play for fun, or try their gambling luck. A stellar example of that is “crash online casino games”. In those games, participants place bets on a steadily increasing multiplier. They may cash out anytime but after a certain threshold the multiplier crashes, voiding all remaining bets. You can read more here. Fast-paced and feature-rich, those games have approached AAA video game quality.

2023 online gambling revenue/users by region: America and Asia lead, charts and maps)

Expanding regional markets

The online gambling market revenue is estimated to reach $107bn in 2024, with user numbers projected to rise from 76 to 195 million. According to Statista, by 2026 the European gambling market alone will be worth €126bn. The leader in revenue generation is the mobile market, with mobile online casinos occupying an important niche. The global trend is legalization, except in the US, where individual states have the power to legislate gambling. Keep in mind that players who launch games through browsers do not count in any statistics. 

In the EU, it is EGBA (European Gaming and Betting Association) that handles the legalization and regulation of gaming and gambling, fostering a transparent and balanced market for different operators. It issues licenses to 267 regional gambling operators. They serve 31 million customers across 22 European countries while enforcing strict gambling standards. Some EU countries and jurisdictions have their national gambling frameworks. Those include:

  • United Kingdom
  • Malta
  • Gibraltar

South America has a mixed status regarding online gambling legality. Mexico allows online gambling, with the Ministry of the Interior handling oversight and regulations. Argentina allows gambling online, though in her case it’s provinces that license operators. Brazil has legalized sports betting but other forms of online gambling are illegal. Colombia has fully legalized the same industry and created a licensing system to ensure fairness and integrity. The forecast is that South America will experience significant online gambling market growth in the next two years.

In Asia and Oceania, some countries have completely banned the same industry while others have it legalized. China forbids all forms except sports and welfare lottery. Macau and Hong Kong have their frameworks in place. Japan, Singapore, and South Korea have some forms of gambling legal. In Australia, sports betting and lottery are legal. In New Zealand, gambling is legal but only for foreign operators.

Growth in online gambling, casinos, lottery, and sports betting from 2017 to 2028

Growth of online casinos 

The competition in the online casino industry is cutthroat, forcing companies to scramble for new ways to stand out and retain their popularity. One simple solution are casino games aggregators that provide essential services for running a casino website. For users, they write reviews on online casinos and provide handy bonuses, such as free spins. But, core services and bonuses might not be enough to attract and keep a discerning player. Online casino operators have to start thinking about growing in terms of features and value to the customer.

Storytelling is a key feature addition to mobile casinos. A compelling narrative draws players in and keeps them emotionally engaged as they watch the narrative unfold or even participate with their choices in it. This immersive attribute of narratives makes them a must-have in mobile casinos, especially those that aim at long-term growth and user retention. The narratives should be optimized for mobile users and feature a compact structure that can be faithfully portrayed by mobile device hardware without impacting fidelity or performance. Inclusivity and cultural sensitivity matter too; a narrative should match player expectations and be relevant to player demographics’ experiences.

Mobile casinos can accommodate a range of diverse experiences, featuring themes that include history, fantasy, and sports. They can also use AR (alternate reality), represented by products that overlay real-world items and surfaces with digital controls and graphics. VR (virtual reality) is another way to immerse the user in the world of the mobile online casino. Both AR and VR games are in essence mobile, even though they don’t necessarily need a smartphone to function. One device that bridges the gap between smartphones and VR is Google Cardboard. It is a headset made out of cardboard that can turn any sufficiently powerful smartphone into a VR device.

2021-2022 gaming revenue by genres

The trend of instant games

Increasing internet bandwidth and computing hardware power have made mobile online casinos instantly accessible. They can now be played on even the tiniest devices, such as wearable tech, or home appliances. Their gentle learning curve and gameplay optimized for quick sessions also mean players can jump in whenever they have a few minutes to play. The key secret to maintaining that instant accessibility is to focus on mobile-centric video game design. The gameplay experience on other platforms should be consistent with the mobile experience while letting players build toward long-term rewards using the same profile.

Achievements and other progress tracker systems, such as leaderboards, are an excellent way to prolong instant play sessions from minutes to hours. Daily and weekly login bonuses that get progressively better as the player keeps coming back strongly incentivize creating playing habits. Desired player behaviors can be reinforced through other in-game rewards and creative game design. Consequently, undesirable behaviors can be curbed using limitations, such as cooldowns. All those elements and mechanics should be integrated seamlessly into the video game to avoid breaking immersion.

The ideal process for making instantly playable yet immersive mobile casinos is iterative design. That means in-game variables should be repeatedly tweaked and tested to discover what improvement is between the two versions. There is often no logical reason why changing one or more variables by 0.1% improves gameplay and immersion yet that’s what regularly happens. Finally, mobile online casinos should be optimized for casual players who jump from one game to the next and don’t expect or want much thinking.

Social integration

In 2020 and 2021, mobile games saw double-digit growth, in part due to pre-teenagers using them to compensate for the lack of real-world socialization. That growth was hampered by Google’s and Apple’s stringent policies on user data and consumer identification. Game studios can no longer target those demographics for monetization but have to give their games broad market appeal. One way they did that was by turning them into an alternative to Facebook Messenger and similar messaging apps. Social features, such as the ability to have quick chats with friends and strangers, are essential in video games in the post-pandemic era for that reason.

Guilds, clans, and other in-game social structures and hierarchies let players organize and build a sense of community. That feeling of belonging creates powerful player motivation and a recurring incentive to communicate with others. Player-vs-player (PvP) and co-op modes are two gameplay enhancements that naturally build off of those structures while tapping into deep tribal urges. Reward-rich events can be scheduled for guilds and clans to promote joining one. These social features should always be free.

What should be monetized are cosmetic upgrades. Unique avatars elevate the player in a chat room or chat channel while promoting creative expression. Extravagant attire and cool emotes are two other ways to motivate players to spend money. When they appear in a chat channel, they will motivate others to spend money as well. The social component of gaming should always let players brag about their success.

Mobile Gaming’s Leap: Beyond Luck, Within Regulations

Randomness has always been and will always be a part of mobile video games. It has advanced by leaps and bounds from the days of Snake but mobile games are not just about rolling the dice or watching the reels spin. Mobile casinos use that randomness as their core premise but enrich it with mobile video game features that provide awesome gaming experiences. They feature rich narratives, instant accessibility, and layered social features, all the while not requiring upfront payment. Players can now immerse themselves in mobile casinos and have fun without spending a penny while having a fair shot at beating those with deep pockets. Still, mobile casinos have to be careful and watch out for government interference.

Take for example Hearthstone, one of the most successful card gambling games, which generated $833mm revenue from in-app purchases in 2014–2022. 28% of that revenue came from China; 23% from the USA. In November 2022, Hearthstone lost access to the Chinese market due to the CCP crackdown on video game addiction, leading to sharply declining revenue. In April 2024, there are talks of Hearthstone regaining access to China but that is again vulnerable to government interference. That is a stark reminder that internet gambling games should not have revenue streams that are vulnerable to punishing legislation.


Tech Digest Correspondent