Social Networking and Online Casinos

Social networking and online casinos are two of the biggest web phenomena today. Twitter and Facebook have taken the entire digital universe by storm, letting people from any corner of the globe communicate with each other over common interests. Since one of the most active communities in the online world is the online gaming community, it was only a matter of time before these two worlds collided. And now, online casino operators are finding ways to integrate social networking media apps into their sites.

ShoutBox is a social networking app launched by Bwin, and it is becoming very successful, allowing online players to chat amongst themselves while playing casino games online. The app allows players to invite contacts to try games and participate in online tournaments, such as slots or poker tournaments. Online gambling experts believe that this type of social networking will become an integral part of the online casino of the future.

Online wagering sites that have not installed their own social media apps use existing social networking sites to keep current players interested and to bring new ones on board. Twitter accounts and Facebook Fan pages are ways in which casino operators expand their reach, by using advertising promotions and answering questions quickly. There are even games on Facebook, such as Zynga Poker, that web casinos use to drum up interest in their sites. Such social networking tournaments allow players to compete for free while encouraging them to visit the owner’s gambling website.

But while Facebook is extraordinarily popular all over the world, in the UK, it is not as popular as online gambling itself. A 2010 survey by Nielsen reported that in the UK, the number of internet gamers increased by 40% over the previous year, while the increase in UK use of social media was significantly lower.

The UK is a world leader in online wagering, so the numbers are not that surprising. Other European countries are following closely on their heels as most of Europe now has regulated web gambling. When the numbers are broken down, it becomes clear that middle aged men account for most of the increase in UK online wagering numbers, though women are big fans too, with poker and bingo being the most popular games among the British.

Because so many of the web gamers in Britain are middle aged, and because so many Facebook users tend to be younger, it may be that the mix of social networking and gambling won’t happen on as large a scale until the casinos themselves build social networking into the sites themselves.

Additionally, if the US eventually regulates online gambling, making it clearly legal rather than residing in a somewhat vague legal status as it does in 2010, a number of UK gambling companies are poised to apply for licenses to operate in the US, and this should marry online gaming to social networking even more strongly.

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Mobile Casinos Are the Next Big Thing in Online Gambling

If you thought it was convenient to play blackjack online 24/7 at home, just wait till you try mobile gambling. The mobile casino is the next logical step in the online casino industry, bringing your favorite online games right to your iPhone, iPad, or Android phone. There are even a few older model phones that support mobile gaming, but for the most part, it’s geared toward today’s smart phones.

Mobile web casinos mean that you can play wherever you can get a 3G connection. Until recently, it was a big enough deal that you could gamble any time using your computer at home, but now you can pretty much gamble anywhere as well. There are three basic approaches to using your mobile device for online wagering: using the mobile version of the site itself; using an iPhone app; or using an Android app.

In many cases, you can use your smart phone simply by going to the mobile version of your favorite casino’s website. If it doesn’t already have a mobile version, it probably will soon: the market is just too lucrative to ignore. You would play on your handheld device just as you would on your computer at home. Everything’s smaller, but you have access to the same games, same prizes, and same bonuses.

iPhone apps are slow in coming, though they do exist. The UK’s Betfair, Ireland’s Paddy Power, and Austria’s Bwin are three European sites that offer iPhone betting apps specific to their sites. Betfair and Paddy Power apps work only in the UK and Ireland, while Bwin’s only works in the UK and Austria, as of late 2010, though other countries are expected to be added rapidly.

Android mobile casino apps look like they will be more abundant, due to the non-proprietary nature of the Android operating system and the growing popularity of Android phones in Europe. The Irish Betdaq is staking its fortunes on Android apps, on the belief that while the iPhone has fueled the expansion of smart mobile devices in general, Androids may be the better long-term option, not least because getting an app approved for the iPhone Apps store is not easy.

There is little doubt about the future of mobile gambling. While currently only about 5% of the bets placed online are done on mobile devices, this number is expected to rocket to more like 50% over the next three to five years. A recent survey by Juniper Research on mobile gaming markets shows that mobile casinos are expanding rapidly, and could see mobile wagers exceeding $48 billion by the year 2015!

For the most part, the most popular games on mobile devices mirror the most popular games in internet gambling in general: slots, poker, and blackjack. An Android app titled “Video Poker,” which is not a web casino game, did not take long to garner 50,000 downloads. Another non-casino game, “Cherry Slot Machine,” is a free Android app and is also one of the top Android gaming apps. Clearly there is a hunger for these games, and it’s just a matter of time before online casinos embrace mobile casino apps en masse.

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The Importance of Online Casino Software

To ensure that their guests have an enjoyable experience, online casinos rely on gaming software to power their selection of games. This software is developed by third-party software companies like Playtech, Rival Gaming, Cryptologic, Vegas Technology, and Realtime Gaming, who are the “big five” in web casino software.

Software developers have to create online casino games that look and sound as much like the games in land casinos as possible. The games must also function reliably, and they must be fair and honest. Internet gambling sites typically sign multi-year licenses with software developers, and the developer is required to maintain and upgrade the games and is usually required to introduce new games periodically.

Right now there are three basic types of software used by casinos online: Flash-based instant games, downloadable games, and apps for handheld mobile devices.

Flash based games allow you to play directly from your internet browser. The big advantage to these games is that you don’t have to download anything, and you can basically play immediately once you have an account at the online casino.

Downloadable games require you to download the game onto your own computer. While there is a time factor involved in the download depending on the type of internet connection you have, downloadable software generally has better quality graphics and are more stable. There are large numbers of downloadable games to choose from.

Game apps for mobile devices like smart phones are the newest type of games that online casinos are getting into. These allow people to gamble from pretty much anywhere, freeing them from having to have a fixed internet connection in order to play.

The software and online gambling industries are currently undergoing a period of consolidation, with many mergers and acquisitions taking place. Casinos say that this will improve the player experience and make for bigger jackpots. In one case, one of the casino software giants, Playtech, is getting into the casino business itself, by purchasing Intelligent Gaming Solutions Ltd., a UK casino management systems company.

Playtech is an extremely successful casino online software company, experiencing gains of 26% in revenue in 2010 versus 2009. They recently introduced a number of very popular slots games, including Ironman 2 Slots, which looks like it will become iconic in the online slots world. They have also begun developing online sports betting software.

When you choose online casinos to play at, be sure that you check to see that they use one of the highly regarded sources for the software that powers the site. This information should be fairly prominently displayed on the home page of the website.

Software is the engine that drives the games on gambling websites, and it is what determines how well you enjoy your experience. Always ensure that the casino you visit uses reputable software providers and that the software is regularly audited by well-regarded third party auditing firms. This will give you the reassurance you need to have a great time, with confidence that the games are fair and that the payouts advertised on the site are accurate.

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5 Best Casino Android Tablet Games

Fortunately, you can enjoy playing fun games online, even with other people who you can meet virtually. Casino games may not be every kid’s favorite, but once you get the hang of it, you will truly appreciate the brilliance of it.

In the Android market, there are several casino games you can choose and here are 5 of the best that you can play:

1. Texas Hold’em Poker

Zynga Poker is an online poker game that can be played around the world. It is a free casino game app and is one of the favorite casino games for the Android tablet. It is a social game that will allow you to challenge all your friends to a nice game of poker. Players can choose to play at any table, while meeting new people around the world. They can also play poker from a casual or VIP table. A leader board also shows chip rankings among players, and a gift shop is available for decorating the players’ seats.

2. Baccarat

Always a crowd favorite, the Lucky Nine or Baccarat card game is played by either choosing the banker or player hand. It is a popular casino game, and is indeed one of the top android casino game apps. Basically, it is a table game which is played by betting on one hand or on a tie. Winning bets on a tie are then multiplied by 8. For all the hardcore casino players out there, Baccarat is a free casino game in the Android market.

3. Live Hold’em Poker Pro

Poker will probably never go out of trends. Another online poker game that you can enjoy playing with real players is the Live Hold’em Poker Pro app. You will receive 12k worth of free chips and 1000 diamonds once you register, and then 5000 more when playing daily. This Android casino game is free, which also allows you to view your stats and credit wins on Facebook with its sign on feature. Other features included are live chat, personal avatars, ring games, lottery draw, free daily gold, save to SD card, shootout and sit-n-go tournament mode.

4. Pocket Bingo Pro

If you like bingo games, you can actually play using your Android app. Pocket Bingo Pro is one of Android’s casino game app favorites which costs only $0.99. You can experience real bingo games with this app which includes pocket bingo live wallpapers. You will also get extra credits once you share the game with your friends on Facebook, and get up to 3 tickets when you play. Pocket Bingo Pro includes special features like Vegas-style platinum game rooms.

5. Live Black Jack

One of the easiest and well-loved card games is Black Jack. You can also play this card game on your Android device for free. It is an online casino game app where you can challenge your friends on Facebook once you have linked your account. You will receive free bonus chips and every time you play, you can keep track of your performance to compare other online players’ statistics.

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