A mobile gambling game allows a player to place bets on a wide variety of casino games and sports events using their smartphone. Increasingly popular, they offer players the convenience of gambling from wherever they are, whenever they want. These apps have become a significant part of the online gambling industry and are available to players on all major smartphones. They are easy to use and provide a high-quality gaming experience. Many of these apps also feature free versions of their games, which are great for new players to try out the games before deciding whether to play them for real money.
A new study has found that mobile phone users who engage in mobile gambling are at risk of developing addictions to the activities. Unlike most new technology that has developed in parallel with the proliferation of gambling, the associative and cognitive basis of mobile gambling appears to be potentially much more problematic for those who are psychologically predisposed to addiction.
The study examined the behaviour of participants who interacted with a simulated gambling app on their mobile phones. The simulated game operated on a random ratio schedule of reinforcement and offered multiple levels of reward. During the experiment, the app was programmed to display a series of short and interspersed periods of interaction, which has been compared to ‘snacking’. The behavioural literature indicates that increases in latency between reinforcements lead to increased learning of behaviour and a greater propensity to persist with the behaviour.
As the software within mobile phones evolves, we can expect to see a growing range of betting-style apps and mobile casino games. These will probably begin with sports bets, particularly on horse races, but could include more complex bets such as those made on football matches. It is also likely that wireless gambling will eventually be extended to cover lottery-style games and even state-run casinos.
The key to avoiding gambling-related problems on mobile devices is simple: only deposit what you can afford and never exceed your winnings. If you do lose, don’t re-deposit any money until you have saved enough to attempt again. This is a fundamental rule of responsible gambling, and it should be followed at all times, regardless of where or how you gamble.
One of the biggest obstacles to responsible gambling is the availability of free-to-play games on mobile devices. These games are not designed to prevent players from losing their money and can actually encourage them to spend more. In fact, many people who have tried these games and ended up in debt have filed lawsuits against the companies that make them. However, no law has yet been passed that would halt the development of these types of games or mitigate the losses they create for their players.