The global market for mobile gambling is poised to rocket from current annual revenue levels of $1.2bn to reach US$7.6bn by 2010, industry analysts have predicted.
In five years there will be more than 200m consumers gambling using their mobiles, according to Informa Telecoms & Media's latest report, Mobile Gambling.
However, to reach this goal, operators and the companies who run mobile gambling services will have to negotiate legislative, technological and cultural hurdles. "Mobile gambling is already generating significant revenues, but there is room for sharp growth in the years ahead," said Stuart Dredge, the report's author.
"Operators recognise that there is a strong demand for mobile gambling services, and there is no shortage of companies looking to provide them. However, the industry must keep in mind its responsibilities to tackle underage and problem gambling."
The report expects that lotteries are set to be the most popular form of mobile gambling in the next five years, because they support the widest range of handsets. Casino gaming will also be popular, particularly as internet casinos migrate their games to mobile. However, Informa predicts that sports betting will be a niche sector by comparison, although bookmakers have been keen to launch mobile applications for their customers to bet on the move.
Europe is likely to remain the largest market for mobile gambling, generating $3.2bn of annual revenues by 2010. However, it will be closely followed by Asia-Pacific, which is forecast to generate $2.7bn by 2010.
North America is described as "the great unknown", as the size of the market there depends first on mobile gambling being legalised in the US, and then on which restrictions are then placed upon it. Nevertheless, the report predicts $979 million of annual revenues for the region by 2010.
Inform notes operators and service-providers must develop systems to ensure that underage consumers cannot gamble on their mobiles, and that potential problem-gamblers are effectively monitored and provided with any necessary advice and support. It states that the implementation of cross-operator codes of conduct, as has been seen in the UK, will be an important step forward in this regard.
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