If you’ve ever downloaded any significant number of smartphone or tablet casino apps on your preferred mobile device, for real money or otherwise, you’ve probably noticed they come in two basic categories. There are those that you pay a nominal fee to download, giving you full access to the games with no advertisements, and those that are listed as Free-to-Play, better known as an F2Ps.
In the past – especially around the dawn of the smartphone gambling age – the majority of social (play-money) apps cost a small amount of money; usually $0.99 to $2.99 at most. Those of us who carried mobile devices at that time were all too happy to pay these cheap prices for access to this brand new and exciting world of portable gaming technology.
But as smartphones became more mainstream, app stores became inundated with new games, and the majority of them were F2Ps. We, as entertainment seeking consumers, became accustomed to getting our gambling apps for free, and that was about the time advertisements and in-app purchases (IAPs) took over.
You know those annoying little ads I’m referring to. Shortly into a new F2P, just as you’re trying to press an action on the touchscreen, the display suddenly alters to depict an advertisement for a different game they’d like you to download, or a special IAP offer for the current game.
If you’re like me, you’ve accidentally tapped on these ads more times than any of us would like to count. They are beyond annoying, but if you want to continue paying nothing for the games you love, you’ll have to put up with it, because those ads are what pay for the creation and continuous updating of our beloved smartphone gambling apps.
Impending Onslaught of Mobile Gambling Ads
If you thought the situation was bad enough already, you’ll be in for a rude awakening soon enough. According to a report from Business Insider‘s BI Intelligence, mobile gaming apps accounted for more than twice the volume of downloads than any other category, and that number is only expected to rise over the next few years.
Market Advertising Watch predicted an annualized growth rate in the global online gambling industry of 11% through 2020, and that means mobile marketers will be targeting smartphone and tablet casino apps to display their latest ad campaigns to a wider audience.
With the growth of the global online gambling market having taken an exponential incline for the past two decades, including a much steeper climb in the years following the onset of mainstream mobile technology, it was inevitable that the eyes of advertisement firms would be drawn in this direction.
The stats don’t lie. Last year, the world’s top four grossing smartphone and tablet casino apps generated over $645 million USD. The European Commission has projected smartphone gambling across the continent to grow an overwhelming 15% year-over-year (YoY), topping out at nearly $15 billion per annum.
So the next time you visit the app store on your Android or iOS powered device, and tap your way over to the Free-to-Play games section in search of a poker, blackjack or video slots game, keep in mind that nothing in life is ever truly free.