Social gambling will drive mobile betting to USD100bn by 2017

Already processing 20% of online wagers via mobile devices

According to new research from Juniper, the popularity of social gambling services will drive the global mobile betting market to USD100bn by 2017, up from USD20bn in 2011, reports StrategyEye. The report claims that “several” UK betting agencies are already processing 20% of online wagers via mobile devices, driven by soaring ownership of smartphones and tablets. Juniper analyst Windsor Holden predicts that social gaming firms such as Zynga are now looking to move into real-money gambling, while mobile casino firms are starting to integrate social elements in a bid to drive up engagement and boost revenues. The forecast indicates that the potent cocktail of social and mobile is continuing to drive growth in new sectors.

“Social gaming companies such as Zynga are seeking to move from play-for-fun casino games into real money gambling, while pur-eplay mobile casinos, including Probability, have begun to integrate with the Facebook mobile platform,” says Holden. “In this way, consumers will be able to use their social networks to register for casino games, substantially increasing both the reach and engagement of such services.”

Holden predicts that mobile wallet services will play a growing role in the growth of the online gambling industry, gradually replacing traditional card payments and potentially lowering the barrier to consumers making bigger transactions online. Adoption of mobile wallet services, which let users store payment details in the cloud, is climbing in key markets such as the US, where one in three mobile owners used a platform such as Google Wallet or Visa’s to complete a payment in Q1. The number of rival services available on the market is partially causing this growth, with MasterCard’s PayPass the latest joining the fray, boosted by smartphone penetration and rising consumer awareness.

A move into real-money gambling could be lucrative for casual gaming firms such as Zynga, which have so far depended on advertising and micro-payments in-game for their revenues. Holden indicates that more established online gambling firms will need to boost their integrations with social networks such as Facebook to drive up engagement and widen their user base. The growth of casual gaming firms such as Zynga have already proved how powerful the marriage of social network and mobile can be, helping to drive the US gaming population up 141% in three years to hit 135m last year. Almost a fifth of gamers now download titles onto their smartphones, compared to just 7% three years ago, while 80% play on sites such as Facebook. Nonetheless, doubts remain over the long-term viability of the freemium model on which most of these firms rely.

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