Fancy a Digital Flutter on the Grand National?

opinionThe Following is a guest contributed post from Paul Swaddle, CEO of Pocket App.

 With Cheltenham Festival only just behind us, the racing season is well and truly here. The festival is all about big betting, with £600 million expected in advance to change hands during the 28 Cheltenham Races and the next most popular gambling event, The Grand National, taking place on 9th April. Without doubt one of the biggest events of the sporting calendar, the Grand National is nothing short of a British institution, drawing in significant crowds and viewing figures.

True to form, current estimates suggest that this year the race will have a staggering TV audience of 10 million viewers, not to mention a crowd of 70,000 spectators at Aintree Racecourse on the day.

However, the Grand National doesn’t just draw viewers. People who might never gamble at any other time in the year, whether it be on horse racing, football or in a casino, turn out in their droves to have a flutter. Households across the nation put a bet on whichever horse takes their fancy; a wager that is often determined by which horse has the most entertaining name or which jockey has the most colourful jersey. Whether or not it is determined by colorful jerseys, the recent form of the horses running or sheer pot luck, over a quarter of the UK adult population is expected to place a bet on the Grand National in 2016.

But how will these bets be made? Traditionally, gamblers would make their way to the bookies shop and queue at the counter to place a wager and collect a betting slip. However, this process is being revolutionized by the ever-expanding mobile gambling industry.

Online gambling is on course to become the most popular form of gambling in the UK and mobile is set to claim a huge chunk of this expansion. Being constantly connected and able to instantly place bets, check odds and claim winnings without ever setting foot in a bookies shop is turning the industry upside-down, and a recent report by Smart Live Gaming not only suggests that mobile gambling will account for over 40% of the online gambling market by 2018, but goes on to state that the number of players gambling online will increase by approximately 100 million by 2018.

The same study also finds that betting on horse racing is the UK’s most popular gambling activity, accounting for 63% of gambling activity among men and 50% among women. It therefore makes a great deal of sense that horse racing is paid particular attention as mobile gambling continues its seemingly meteoric rise.

And in my opinion, that is exactly what has happened. Not only do the everyday gambling apps such as William Hill, Bet365 and Sky Bet allow players to bet on races such as the Grand National, but a wide range of specialist horse racing apps also offer a more in-depth experience.

Apps such as Racing Post, which has gained a huge following, amalgamate all of the available information from newspapers, websites and racing journals so that the app itself becomes a source of all the information any aspiring gambler might need to make a well-informed bet. One of the key factors to creating a successful mobile app is ensuring that it is the most convenient way for the consumer to achieve a function, and having the most up-to-date industry updates and information in the same place as the option to bet meets this criteria perfectly.

Another mobile app that I particularly admire is the Logical Horse Racing App, which allows users to enter the details of their chosen horse, such as weight, age, recent performance in other races and how many other horses are running, and will use this information to give users an informed estimate as to how likely their horse is to win its race.

Apps such as these are, in my opinion, the future of mobile gambling. Not only are they highly functional platforms via which players can check odds and place bets, but these apps understand that to be successful when placed in the hand of a consumer, you must prove yourself to be an essential resource.

Eliminating the need to keep betting slips safely tucked away in a jacket pocket or the need to travel into town to collect your winnings is the first step. Becoming a platform that provides everything a keen gambler might need in a single place is what has made Racing Post the most popular free horse racing app on the market and is indicative of the evolution of mobile gambling apps.

So when the Grand National comes around in the next couple of weeks, how will you be placing your bet? Honoring the tradition of visiting the bookies shop to bet on your favorite horse certainly has a nice novelty to it, especially with a once-a-year event such as the Grand National, but the convenience, functionality and insight offered by today’s horse racing apps makes them the best possible one-stop shop if you are a consistent gambler.

My opinion is that this is the way that all gambling apps, and indeed apps across other industries, will start to go. Users no longer want a destination where they are simply able to place a bet and collect their winnings if it means they have to source the information required to make that bet profitable elsewhere. Mobile gambling is quickly becoming a crowded market as various developers attempt to monopolize on its success, and if your app finds itself in front of a consumer, the only way to keep it there is to make sure you are offering a start to finish experience that offers everything your audience needs.

Never mind the Grand National, it’s the race to see which mobile horse racing app is going to come out on top that we should all be hedging our bets on.