Mobile has completely overtaken desktop. Don’t believe us? Well, here are three interesting facts for you.
As of 2018, there are 3.7 billion users of mobile internet
52.2% of internet traffic in 2018 was from mobile devices
82% of people use mobile devices to research potential purchases
It’s hard to deny mobile’s taking over when everywhere you go, other people have their heads down and eyes glued to their smartphones and tablets. Even while they’re driving. Mobile devices nowadays are mini computers, but portable and far more convenient. You can carry your device in your pocket or bag, and you can use it to work, communicate, research stuff, and a whole lot more. Even gamble. For real money. That’s right. It’s possible to gamble online for real money from your mobile device.
Using the betting and gaming apps from these gambling sites means you can play slots while waiting in line at the grocery store. You can play a blackjack hand or two while walking down the street. You can play video poker while on the plane, or bet on your favorite sports teams. You get the idea.
But if you’re new to this mobile thing, or this online gambling thing …then mobile gambling might be over your head. You might be wondering what apps to download, what games you can play, and the difference between real and play money apps.
We’ve got you covered. Just keep on reading.
Two Types of Gambling Apps
There are two types of gambling apps – apps you play or use for fun, and apps you can use to gamble for real money.
There are several differences between the two. And, not every difference is entirely exclusive – there is some overlap.
Let’s take a look at those now.
Let’s start with ‘play money’ or ‘for fun’ gambling apps.
The biggest difference from the other kind of apps is that you cannot use these apps for real money gambling. You won’t win money playing with these apps.
Now, that doesn’t mean you cannot use them to win real money. For example, if you download a poker app that calculates odds and counts outs, you can use this to help you play real money poker. But you won’t lose or make money from the app itself.
You’ll find most of these apps in one of the popular app stores. You may even find apps from developers’ websites who create games for social media.
Here are a few examples of where you can go to find play money apps.
Then enter the type of game or tool you’re looking for in the search bar. Chances are you’ll come up with a few, if not dozens of options.
You can also find them through various app review sites. It’s not hard – just search Google for ‘app reviews’ or ‘gambling apps,’ and you’ll find tons of stuff.
Some Apps Are Free, Others Aren’t
Some play money apps will be free. Others might cost you $0.99 up to $5-$7 for one app. There are a few differences to beware of between the two.
Free apps will have ads whereas paid apps may not. The idea behind a free app is to get it into the hands of as many people as possible, then monetize through banner ads. These ads can range from subtle to outright intrusive.
Paid apps are often higher quality apps with better graphics and functionality compared to free apps. They’re updated and/or fixed more often, too.
Free apps will often have advertising or an option to ‘upgrade’ the app to a premium version. The free version is usually a basic, bare bones option you can use to see if you like it before buying it.
Again, these aren’t hard and fast rules, but just a general idea of what to expect. The one thing paid and free play money apps DO have in common is you cannot play them for real money.
Which is also why there are some types of play money apps you won’t be able to find. For example, take sports betting. When was the last time a sportsbook allowed you to bet for free? They don’t offer free betting, unlike online casinos and poker rooms. So, you shouldn’t expect to find an app that lets you, either.
But even though you won’t find a sports betting app, or any other gambling option where you can’t play for free, one thing you may find instead are gambling tools or programs you can use for when you ARE gambling for real money.
For example, we found several sports picks apps. You download the app and you’ll receive free sports picks.
Chances are they will try to make money from you, though, either by making sportsbook recommendations, or by upselling you access to a premium sports picks subscription. In fact, we saw one example where we think they did just that – they had pricing options ranging from $9.99 to $74.99.
Tools and advice aren’t limited to sports betting, either. For poker, you’ll find plenty of odds calculators, out counters, poker tournament clocks, and more.
You can even find map apps that help you find your way around all the casinos on the Las Vegas strip. We’ve used one for the past few years, and it’s a real timesaver.
The bottom line – even though you cannot gamble for real money on these apps, that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. You can use them to practice, help you win at real money games, or use them to save you time and money while on a gambling trip.
In short, there are many indirect ways they can help you gamble, online or off.
Now let’s look at real money gambling apps.
Gambling Apps for Real Money
Alright, the biggest difference with real money gambling apps is you can use them to gamble for real money.
But, before we go any further, we want to make one thing clear – you can use most, if not all of these apps to play for fun, too. For example, we’ve spent hours playing on PokerStars .net mobile app. We’ve also played on many other casino apps during our many, many hours reviewing online casinos.
So, even if you don’t plan or want to play for real money, you still might want to consider checking out an app from an actual gambling site.
There are a few reasons why.
Gambling apps are (usually) high quality. Even if the site itself is basic, the games will look good and work right. They have to in order to attract and keep paying customers.
You’ll often have dozens of games available at your fingertips. This is different from free money apps where you’re usually downloading an individual game, which means you’d have to have LOTS of apps on your phone if you wanted to play different casino games.
Gambling apps will not have advertising EXCEPT for their own. Because why would they advertise another product or service when they have theirs they want you to use?
These apps won’t cost you a thing to download or use (except for possibly data). And that’s because they make money from paying customers. This means you get a high quality app with more games and features for nothing – regardless if you play for real or fake money.
The bottom line – you get a higher quality app and overall better experience playing on an app from an online sportsbook, casino or poker room.
See what we mean. Here are some images from (Bovada) mobile app.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that most gambling apps are ‘lite’ versions of the desktop version. They may have fewer features or games. We’re not 100% sure why this is, but we assume it comes down to development costs and time.
App size is probably a factor, too. Meaning, could you imagine an iPhone app that has 500 or even 1,000 casino games on it?
(That might not even be possible.)
But that’s okay. Because some online gambling sites don’t even bother with native apps. They build mobile responsive websites instead.
The Rise of Mobile Responsive Websites
Instead of mobile apps, many operators are choosing to build their websites using the latest and greatest in web programming.
For example, HTML5.
HTML5 is the latest version in markup language used to structure websites and present content on the internet.
What makes HTML5 special is that it’s possible to create games with it. It’s also mobile responsive. Do you see where we’re going with this.
The benefit to having these attributes is that now casinos can build one website and it will work for all sorts of devices – desktop computers, laptops, tablets, phones and so on. The page (and your browser) will resize the games to properly fit your device.
You can tell a website is mobile responsive by manually resizing your browser window from bigger to smaller. If the website shrinks and is still usable, it’s mobile responsive.
This means you won’t need to download a native app. While there’s probably some downsides to not creating and having an app specifically for a mobile platform, the upsides are far more worthwhile.
Mobile casinos and poker rooms are compatible with more devices (specifically BlackBerry and Windows).
Casinos can worry less about phone/tablet updates for specific devices. This saves time and money for them, and potential frustration for the user.
They’re future ready for new updates and devices.
Since most, if not all the games are created with HTML5, you’ll have more games to play from the start. Compare this to the handful or dozen of casino games most operators currently have for mobile customers.
Ultimately, HTML5 (or similar) is the future. It’s where we see many casinos headed. In fact, most bitcoin sites are built (almost) entirely in HTML, and many regular online casinos are making the switch.
Want some examples? Check out Bovada, Ignition Casino, Café Casino or Bodog. No app or download needed. Just open your browser on your phone or tablet and visit their site.
It’s that simple.
Desktop gambling will never go away. There are just too many uses for them – primarily work related – so computers will never go away, nor will the people who prefer to use them over mobile devices.
(Hey, sometimes it’s nice to play blackjack on a 15” or 18” screen vs a tiny smartphone screen.)
But desktop usage WILL continue to shrink.
Mobile usage is going to continue to get bigger and better in the future. Which means mobile gambling will, too.
And that’s something we look forward to.
Mobile Gambling FAQ
Here are some questions we get about gambling apps and mobile online gambling.
Do gambling apps use up a lot of data?
We don’t have or know exact numbers of how much data any one app will use. I do have firsthand experience playing an HTML5 game over 3G – and I used up my data FAST.
It’s probably a good idea to gamble over (free) wi-fi whenever possible. That, or you should have a mobile plan with unlimited data.
Are real money gambling apps safe and secure?
Yes. They use similar, if not the same SSL technology their websites (and your banks) use to encrypt any information that passes to and from your account. From there you should practice safe web and mobile usage. Namely making sure you have secure passwords, don’t flash or enter personal information in public, and always use secure internet connections when you’re out in public.
Can I still have a deposit bonus or other offer on my phone/tablet?
Yes. Often times you’ll have access to the same promotions desktop users do. For some sites, they’ll offer an exclusive deposit bonus or possibly a small cash offer (in addition to the deposit bonus) just to try their mobile site out.
Here are a couple examples.
BetOnline has a $50 mobile free play. Make a bet from your smartphone. If you lose, BetOnline will reimburse you (on bets up to $50).
Bovada has an offer where they’ll give you $10 for spending $250+ gambling in their mobile casino.
For more mobile-specific offers we recommend you read our gambling reviews.
Are real money mobile apps just as good as the desktop version?
Yes. Sometimes they’re even better. This will definitely be the case if you have one of the newest phones or tablets, but have an older computer/monitor.
How do I know if I need to download an app or not (for real money gambling)?
Good question. There are a few ways to figure this out.
Read our reviews. This is something we (try to) cover in every site review.
Visit the site. Many sportsbooks, casinos and poker rooms have dedicated mobile pages where they explain how to access their site from your mobile device.
Visit the site from your phone or tablet. We’ve found that – in most cases – you’ll be redirected to the mobile site or app, if the casino has one. If not, then chances are their site is mobile responsive.
Manually resize the casino. If nothing changes, then chances are they have a mobile app or dedicated mobile website. But if the stuff on the page starts shifting, then chances are it’s mobile responsive.
You can also ship an email to the casino’s support and they’ll be able to tell you, too.
Are gambling apps legal in the United States?
Free or play money apps shouldn’t be a problem.
Real money apps are the same as gambling from your computer – it’s complicated and a gray area at best. If you can get away with it from your desktop, then chances are it’s no different from your phone.
But we’re not lawyers. So, do your own due diligence before you start playing.
What can I do if there’s no app and the mobile casino isn’t compatible with my device?
When online casinos develop apps, they usually create them for iOS and Android devices. Our guess is because these are the most popular ones.
The problem is, they leave their BlackBerry and Windows customers in the cold.
One solution is to find a mobile responsive (HTML5) casino. Bovada and Ignition Casino are good starting points.
There are other options, such as jailbreaking your phone or using 3rd party mobile browsers that are compatible with non-responsive, mobile casinos. But since there are so many types of devices, operating systems and hacks, there’s no way we could provide one-size-fits-all advice.
In this case, Google’s your best friend.
What games can I play?
This depends on which avenue you go – the play money or real money route.
If you go the play money route, the most common games you’ll find will be slots, blackjack, video and Texas holdem poker. But it’s slim pickings if you want a non-blackjack table game, or if you want a blackjack or video poker variation.
The same goes for online poker. Not only that, but most play money poker apps pit you against an AI. There are few, if any apps where you play against other human players.
(Which is why it might make more sense to go the real money route even if you don’t plan to gamble for real money.)
If you go the real money route, you’ll have far more options. The biggest limiting factor will be where you (can) play. Every casino has a different selection.
Some casinos will have 10 mobile games. Others will have hundreds. In either case, the majority of games will be slots followed by popular options like blackjack, roulette, craps and video poker.
(Live dealer games are even possible (but likely only for international players).)
If you want variety, you should try to find a casino or poker room that uses HTML5. We’re going to sound like a broken record, but Bovada and Ignition Casino are good choices. Microgaming also has a mobile casino AND poker product. And another idea is to join a bitcoin casino – nearly all of them have HTML5 games.
I already have a casino account. Can I use the same one for my phone?
Yes. Do NOT create another account if you already have one. You should have no problems logging into an existing account. If you do, contact support.