It’s hard to say ‘tablet’ without thinking ‘iPad’, and the current crop of tablet-based casino apps is certainly focused on Apple’s category-defining slab of ultra-high technology.
We’ll pick out some of our own favourites at the end of this article – but first, where did casino apps come from all of a sudden, and what does 2014 have in store for this whole new way to play?
The first iPad launched in 2010.
Read that sentence again: the first (ever) iPad was launched in April 2010, creating an entirely new category of mass-market computing device that defied its critics to become almost universally pervasive within a matter of months.
The impact is hard to measure or even conceive of – competing operating systems like Microsoft’s Windows are already moving towards a touchscreen-as-standard interface, to suit tablets that do not have a physical keyboard.
In the three months to September 28th 2013, Apple sold 14.1 million iPads, slightly up on the same period of the previous year – and on October 22nd, they made those 14.1 million iPads obsolete by announcing a newer model, the iPad Air.
It’s actually two years since Forrester declared that “gambling is finally going mobile”, which is perhaps a suggestion of how closely the fortunes of tablets and the mobile gambling market are linked.
Forrester’s Thomas Husson predicted that legal complexities and fierce competition would make it a hard-fought market, but one with tens of millions of euros in revenues for early leaders.
Juniper Research published an update in December 2013 revealing that an estimated 64 million people currently use their tablet or mobile device to gamble.
By 2018, this is predicted to rise to 164 million people, and includes mobile casino visits, along with bets and lottery ticket purchases.
Tablets earned a special mention in the report’s news release, as “dual-screen options on tablet casino games can enhance gameplay”.
But gambling is not the only segment being transformed by ultraportable equipment, and the emergence of ‘smart watches’ could be the next transformational development.
In a further report in December 2013, Juniper Research estimated total mobile and tablet entertainment revenues at $39 billion in 2013.
By 2017, this is forecasted to roughly double to $75 billion, with Christmas likely to introduce a regular annual spike in market penetration.
There’s an ever-growing list of tablet apps to choose from, and casino apps now have their own category (under ‘Games’) in the App Store.
With so many new releases, it’s hard to pick the best – and even harder to suggest that something better might not be released within a matter of weeks – but we’ve tried to suggest some of the most significant iPad apps here.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of Zynga as a gaming network; with six million and more daily users, it’s a bigger network than PokerStars, and deals around 60 million hands of Texas Hold’em every day.
In-app purchases make it easy to turn real money into gaming chips to play with, while cross-platform support means you can log into your account from your iPad, iPhone, iPod or via the social network Facebook.
This inclusion of social features is what allowed Zynga to build their brand in the first place, before making the entry into the play-for-real-money market.
One of the biggest brands in betting has a fully featured casino app available to help make sure it stays at the forefront of the emerging casino app gaming market.
Vegas by William Hill offers a range of online slots titles, reproduced in app form, along with a specially developed Blackjack game.
The app is free, with support for real-money wagers in British pounds sterling only, and a regular loyalty bonus that pays back up to £20,000 of each member’s wagers staked on Vegas games.
One of the true trailblazers of casino app gaming, DoubleDown Casino offers a genuinely complete casino experience literally at your fingertips.
More than 25 slots, Blackjack, video poker, slots tournaments, Facebook login support and free play modes all combine to make this a worthy contender for ‘best app’ status.
Well over a thousand people have rated the app since its first version was published, and it consistently scores around the four-star level, while each new version adds more titles to the choices available to users.