5 of the First Mobile Online Casinos to Go Live

November 14th, 2018

Today we take a look the first few mobile casinos to take to the internet.

Gaming on the go has not only become a popular phrase in the casino industry over the last decade, it’s become a multi-billion-dollar enterprise. According to Newzoo’s 2018 Global Games Market Report, more than 50% of the money made by gaming companies now comes from the mobile sector. In fact, the $70.3 billion earned by mobile products is more than PC and console games combined. With mobile gaming at an all-time high, more casino developers are putting their time and effort into apps. However, were it not for a group of early trailblazers, mobile casino gaming might not be what it is today.

Pub Fruity Gets Things Started

Even before the first iPhone went live in 2007, mobile casino games were starting to gain traction. One of the first games to go live in 2005 was Pub Fruity. Java-based and boasting three-reels, the game was a chance for fruit machine fans to take their experience out on the road for the first time. Like almost all mobile software in the early noughties, Pub Fruity was a pay-to-download game. However, with no provisions to make deposits, it was strictly a free-play affair.

Poker Enters the Mix

The free-play dynamic characterised every early mobile casino product. Because they predated the iPhone and the invention of smartphone apps, there was no way for developers to incorporate payment options or data protection. In essence, early mobile casino games were more like video games. A great example of this is JAMDAT Mobile's Downtown Texas Hold'em. Released in 2005, this game allowed you to play poker in a variety of settings, including one-off games and career mode. However, due to the lack of payment options and multiplayer functionality, opponents were powered by rudimentary AI software. Although games such as this laid the foundations for what was to come, they lacked any sense of authenticity.

Microgaming Goes Big on Mobile Casinos

As mobile technology improved, Microgaming entered the market with the aim of building on the ideas started by Pub Fruity et al. Using its experience in the online casino sector, Microgaming began experimenting with new products under the Spin3 banner. Working alongside Spiral Solutions Ltd, the developer created a number of early mobile slots before the launch of the iPhone changed the game. With smartphones ushering in a new level of sophistication, Microgaming achieved a number of industry firsts. On top of releasing iOS casino software in 2007, it developed a real-money poker app for Android in 2011 and the first real-money casino app for Windows Phones in 2014.

mFortune Offers a Smart Solution for Mobile Gamers

Joining Microgaming at the forefront of the real-money mobile gaming revolution was mFortune. Going live in 2007, this provider initially used a message-to-download system where users installed games individually via an SMS link. From here, what mFortune and other operators were able to do was integrate payment solutions. Initially, users would have to make a deposit via their desktop gaming accounts and then log in to their mobile app. However, as time went on and apps became more advanced, universal wallets were introduced, which meant players could make deposits via their computer or smartphone.

William Hill Joins the Mobile Mix

By the time 2013 rolled around, many of the leading casino brands were ready to fully embrace the mobile revolution. Edging out as early front-runner that year was William Hill. Despite being six years behind mFortune, William Hill was able to steal a march on its predecessor by offering a comprehensive suite of games. It drew from its desktop platform to offer everything from slots to video poker. On top of that, players were given a universal wallet, which basically meant they could move money from their desktop account to their mobile account and vice versa. Although this feature is now a standard, it was innovative at the time and helped to pave the way for today's top mobile casino apps.