By David A. Marcus.
UK -- With the Government looking to review gambling regulations for the first time since 1968, the legislation around m-gambling is provoking huge levels of interest. The Netherlands and Sweden have already created 'mobile' lottery licences and Britain is set to follow suit.
Regulations to date have in general had a negative effect on the industry, forcing the industry offshore and avoiding the law by approaching gamblers using the Internet. However, the new gambling bill proposed by the Government aims to respond to the increasing popularity and accessibility of gambling. Crucially, the Government is also looking to ensure that the UK industry wins its share of the revenue.
M-gambling applications are coming onto the market with increasing rapidity and m-gambling has the potential to be a highly lucrative market for both service providers and operators. According to Alatto Research Group, the m-gambling market could reach almost £500 million by 2006. The danger this level of potential revenue brings is that the market could grow to fast. If users are targeted with low quality applications, the market will create low levels of customer satisfaction, leading to unsustainable expansion and lower revenues in the long-term.
Positive legislation is therefore important to prevent companies exploiting this new market without the right technology and without a licence. In addition, as m-gambling evolves, regulation will promote user confidence in the industry by ensuring that there are legal requirements for user security such as age verification and accurate pricing and billing information.
In time, over 4.5% of users will visit a casino via their mobile, with average spending estimated at around £53 per month. It is not only the service providers that are interested in developing this market: mobile operators also stand to benefit greatly from this additional revenue stream, which will help costly 3G networks become profitable and also compensate for decreasing levels of voice revenues.
The new generation of phones also makes it possible to download more complex and engaging applications than ever before. And with mobile phones replaced on average once a year, increasing numbers of hi-tech phones are finding their way into subscribers' pockets. In fact, certain companies have already started to invest in developing interactive casino and betting games on a Java platform.
M-gambling is completely portable and now that network coverage has reached almost 100%, the mobile phone could rapidly become ideal tool for having a flutter. Consumers can place bets on favourite sports matches or play a game of blackjack or poker – anytime, any place, at the touch of a button. In addition, new billing technology allows users to be invoiced directly on the mobile operator's monthly bill rather than using a separate credit card, ensuring these services are immediately available and therefore revenue rich.
Betting by its very nature is impulse driven and mobile phones, with their complete portability and easy use, are the ideal tool for gamblers. This market offers huge revenue opportunities to both operators and applications providers which, with careful legislation, should be sustainable for the long term.
Echovox helps companies create, deliver and monetise content, applications and data services for mobile subscribers. It provides a wide range of standardised and bespoke solutions from entertainment content delivery through to interactive services such as mobile voting, chat, quizzes and complex mobile entertainment applications.
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