Betting On Mobile
By Carlo Longino, Sat Sep 04 01:15:00 EEST 2004

With no fewer than five announcements of mobile gambling services in the last couple weeks, have bookmakers struck mobile gold?

Several mobile gambling sites and services were announced in the last couple weeks, most in the UK (thanks to M-Internet360 for several of the links):

- National lottery operator Camelot signed a deal with O2 to let punters play by SMS,
- 3 will offer a mobile version of Ladbrokes Balls!, a lottery-style game with a draw occuring once a minute,
- Channel 4 will offer mobile and online gambling through a partnership with Sky Bet,
- Bookmaker Stanleybet will release a Java application to deliver up-to-date odds and betting information and let users make bets, and
- Gibraltar-based bookie Victor Chandler will also offer a Java betting app.

These certainly aren't the first moves into mobile betting, which has been around since the early WAP days, and the famous Hong Kong Jockey Club now takes more bets from mobile devices than it does online. Most UK carriers have some partnership with bookmakers, an industry that tends to stay on top of technology.

Gamblers are a good fit for mobile content and services -- they're generally devoted customers, they're likely to be looking for improvements in service and their activity, of course, generates money. Freeing punters from having to get down to the betting shop to gamble seems like an easy way for the companies to increase their potential revenues. So has the industry found a killer app? That's doubtful, as gambling still has a rather limited appeal across the general public. But that doesn't mean the bookmakers' mobile moves won't be successful.

Can this many players survive? Chances are if mobile betting proves lucrative in the UK and elsewhere, carriers will look to protect their own partnerships and revenues to do something to try to block the third-party Java apps and services.